The story of us.

I was raised in a dysfunctional family of four. Not much to report on that. But apparently I'm as resilient as a Panda (wait, aren't they going extinct? crap...) because I'm perfectly normal despite this. At least, normal by my own standards..and that's all that matters.
I met Josh through my sister's fiance. He was the brother..of my sister's fiance.... so basically he was about to be my brother in law. We started talking about a week before the wedding. I know it sounds cliche to say we had an instant connection, but we really did. I had only previously had one boyfriend, and it was a typical teenage-girl thing. I was all giggly and self-conscious and couldn't really be myself. But with Josh, it was completely different. I didn't need to hide who I was, or act a certain way. It felt like a really honest friendship, even though we didn't really know each other yet.
The day after the wedding would probably be the say I would say our actual relationship started. My favorite way to describe it is that we were "hanging out exclusively." I love to reminisce about this particular point in my life. I was 17, and I had been through a lot at home. I had spent a long time - yes, a long time, even though I was only 17 - dreaming of the day I would meet a man who could handle a girl like me. I fantasized about being married and being in a home where I was taken care of, and where someone wanted to take care of me. I figured, being 17, that even though I was ready to be married, I would probably endure years of a relationship before the person I was with would commit to marriage.
I hadn't had tons of guys falling over themselves trying to date me. I was that "weird" kid who was mean to everybody. It wasn't until recently that I realized how oppressed I was, and how it affected the way I treated those around me. I have always been bitter about what i went through as a child, and it really showed. So out of the one boyfriend I had, who dumped me three times, I hadn't ever really felt like the most likeable girl in the world.
By the time I met Josh, I had already decided to stop actively seeking a mate. I knew that no matter how much I wanted to fall in love, and have someone love me, and be "rescued" from my life, I needed to put Jesus first. My desire to find a soul mate was seriously impeding my walk with God. So to suddenly have a male in my presence acting interested in me, but whom I was not actively seeking, was foreign to me. I never thought in a million years that he would really end up my husband, so I just let nature take its course.
Josh was so much fun. I had been "warned" by my sister, who lived in the same house as him and his family, that he was grouchy, bitter, and generally an anger person. But I saw none of this. We would go for long drives in his car, go out to eat, hang out and watch anime - we had so much fun together and it was so fulfilling to have someone to talk to. Did I mention he had just turned 24? And no, at this point, we had not even kissed yet. So while we were attracted to each other, the relationship was not based on anything physical.
After what I'm remembering as about a week, my sister expressed her disdain for what was going on between us. She tried to tell my parents that it was inappropriate that I was going to see him while no one else was home, and that he was a bad person because A) he was a smoker, B) he had been with at least 10 girls that she knew of  (this turned out not to be even close to true), C) he had a history of being engaged and then breaking up with the girl (this was partially true, but seeing as how he was ever-searching, like me, for the right person, he had ended up breaking it off with the wrong ones), and D) he was just using me....for what I am not sure, since we hadn't even kissed yet.
I called Josh that night crying, and telling him how mean my sister had been. I did not realize at the time that she was just being a big sister, and she did not realize at the time how deeply I cared for Josh. He told me just to ignore it and that it didn't matter what anyone else thought. He went on to say " I could see myself marrying you, somewhere down the road" and "I think we could really be great together."
After a month of us "hanging out exclusively" or "dating" or whatever you want to call it, we decided to announce our plans to marry. We wanted to do it as soon as possible. We were very much in love and did not see the point in dating for five years. Why waste time? When you know, you know. And we both knew. In fact, the day we drove to get his father's birthday present, I had a small epiphany. I suddenly realized "I love Josh!" - very Clueless style, when Alicia Silverstone realizes she loves her step-brother of the same name. I even looked at the clock, because I wanted to remember that moment forever. It was 9:23 p.m.
Anyways, we wanted to do it right after I turned 18, and my mom BEGGED us to at least give her three months to plan. So we set the wedding for the end of my mom almost exactly three months.
It was hectic but it came together, and after a month of dating, and three months of being engaged, we became husband and wife on September 24th, 2005. Our wedding was beautiful, by the way.
We decided, upon getting married, that we would wait at least two years to even think about kids. But about a month or so after the wedding, Josh started getting antsy for a baby. He had survived cancer at 16, and was told he would never have children. So I think he was really anxious to see if we would even be able to have a baby. He had been ready for marriage and children for years, and it seemed to be eating away at him. Unfortunately for him, I was just barely 18. I was not at all ready for a baby. He just kept on and on, "No pressure.....but just so you know, I am totally ready to try for a baby. So whenever you are ready, just let me know. Cause I'm ready."
It was only ten months after our wedding that I decided to stop taking birth control. I didn't know anything about babies or pregnancy. Not a damn thing. So 6.5 weeks later, when I woke up and told Josh "I don't feel good," he started begging me to take a test. I put it off for another day or so out of just straight fear, but when I finally tested, we were pregnant. First try.
My first child was the typical, independent, mature first-born. I sucked at being a mom because I had never had any experience in the field. Josh had to soothe her and do almost everything except for breastfeeding. I was clueless.
We ended up having to move in with Josh's parents when he got his hours at work reduced to nearly nothing. It was a sad time for us, but we had to do what we had to do.
When my first baby was about 10 months old, we decided (I mean I decided and Josh was okay with it) to try for baby number two. And we caught the first cycle again!
Right before he was born, we managed our way into a 3-bedroom house of our own. It was a blessed time for us. It made me feel like I could really do the mom thing on my own.
Let me back-track a little. Living with my mother-in-law made me feel horrible. I could not stand anything she did or said, because she was overly mothering. She was constantly trying to tell me what to do with my baby and just in general, I felt like she was constantly stepping on my toes. Now, I have nothing against her and I lover her very much. But it is obviously never intended that a woman live with her mother-in-law. These are two very different people striving to do the same thing in two different ways. It's just not good.
I was very depressed by the time we moved out, but I felt a million times better once we were out on our own.
Somewhere down the line, we were wrongfully evicted from our home. We came back from a camping trip to an eviction notice. We were never given a real reason, and I was completely devastated. I now had a two-year-old and a nine-month-old, and was going to have to move in with the in-laws again.
At this point, we weren't sure what we were doing anymore. Time seemed to stand still as we went from day to day, unable to set any goals or see where our future was going. Around this time, we had our car repossessed. It was a serious wake-up call for us that something drastically had to change.
Somehow, and I don't even remember how, we decided that Josh would go with my dad to Alaska and find a job and a home for us. I don't know really what we were thinking, but just a few months before he was planning on going, we started trying to conceive baby #3. We planned that he would get the rest of the family there within a couple months, but it did not turn out that way. I spent the better half of my pregnancy in Oregon while my husband was in Alaska. It was very hard, but worth it. After 6 months we were able to fly up and be reunited. I actually got up there, about 9 months pregnant, the day before our 5-year anniversary.
We had no belongings and very little clothes. We couldn't afford to bring much with us. And Josh hadn't actually found us our own place yet, so it was our family of four (soon to be five) plus my mom and dad living in a studio apartment - with no door on the bathroom.
Again, I will backtrack.
I spent those six months listening to my mother-in-law (and several other people) basically telling me that I would never end up in Alaska, and that Josh would be coming back, or we would get up there and change our minds. The whole thing was so stressful, especially when added to my horrid fear of flying....which I was going to have to do, full term and with two tiny kids. So by the time I got up there, I was elated. Nothing could bring me down. I have never been so humbled or felt so blessed as I did in that studio apartment.
We were there until after baby #3 was born, and that was the place I brought him home too.
My parents started housesitting for the town doctor, so Josh and I got the place to ourselves for awhile. It was the first time in a long time that I had had the opportunity to be a  mom on my own, without my in-laws trying to be the mother mom trying to be the mother. If you have a mom or a mother-in-law, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
It felt so nice. I felt at peace.
We didn't want to pay any more rent at that place, so we stayed at the doctor's house too for about two weeks or so before Josh found a 1-bedroom tiny cottage.
You would think it would be cramped and just terrible for a family of five.
But it was a dream come true. I was so thankful for us to have a home where all of our family was together and I was in control of my family.
It got a little lonely because Josh was coaching wrestling, which meant he was gone for five days then home for two, then gone for three then home for one, then gone for five.... it was off and on like this for awhile and I got to stay home and try to keep the living room - which was also the kids' bedroom and playroom - clean, and take care of the kids on my own.
That place was rented to us with the understanding that someone else was moving back in after three months, so we had to rush to find a bigger place.
And Josh did.
He found a three-bedroom house, with hardwood floors and a wood stove, and a front and back yard. It was like winning the lottery.
I have never really lived somewhere that I didn't think about our *next* home. But I think we are going to be here for a long, long time. The space is perfect and it's amazing to think that just a year ago, we felt desperate and trapped, not knowing when we would be in a happy place. It felt like it may never come. But looking back now, it seems like all of a sudden things just changed.
It's not some amazing, perfect, brand new house. It has its needs repairs here and there. But we can't complain. God gave us this place and we are genuinely as thankful as we have ever been.
I can't wait to put another season behind us in this place. We have come a long way.
Anyways, to finish up this little stroll down memory lane, I'll bring you the rest of the way up to speed. We had planned to maybe have 5-6 kids, about 1.5-2 years apart each. Well, in March we felt convicted to trust the Lord and stop taking birth control. So we live in Alaska, a happily married couple with a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a nine-month old, and waiting for baby #4 to happen.....and we could not ask for more.