It has been 31 years since I met this guy, and on February 27th, in five days, it will have been 28 years since I married him. I have to tell you…..He is NOT the same guy I met back in February of 1987. (Dang, that makes me sound old) I promise you, in the moment when I first laid eyes on Paul… leaning up against a kitchen counter with his arms folded in his Levis 501’s and his mustard yellow button up t-shirt, at a party….. not for one half of a second did I think this would be the man I would marry and have three children with. But I’m sure glad it was.

If you’re good at math you’ve already figured out that I was 15 when I met Paul, he was 18, and so was his Mustang. That’s right, Paul drove a ’69 Mustang and all the girls knew it, except for me… until that night that is. The first thing Paul did when we met was introduce me to his car. (wink wink… haha)

Paul was very quiet. Let me say that again…. Paul was VERY quiet. I’m still not sure how or why we ended up together because I am the exact opposite. It drove me crazy that he never spoke… perhaps it became a challenge for me to crack this vault, and being a Leo, I don’t give up easily. Paul’s biggest complaint was that I had too many friends. While I like crowds, parties and people, Paul enjoys my undivided attention.

As I’ve pondered on how Paul and I have gotten to where we are, with a 28-year anniversary coming up and three amazing children, I have been taking a walk through our journey together. The transformation I’ve seen in my partner for life, and eternity, reminds me of his Mustang. You see, when he first got the Mustang it was perfect, but over time and even with proper care and maintenance, shit happens. The parts wore out, the engine failed, it had a few accidents, and as it aged it accumulated rust and eventually was retired to the back yard to await the day when we had enough money to bring Paul’s dream to life, he has always wanted to restore the Mustang and turn it into something even more amazing than it was before.

I can see the parallels between my husband and his car. Just like the Mustang, Paul has always worked at full capacity. He has ALWAYS worked his butt off for his family. Paul has and would give ALL HE HAS for his family. He has traveled multiple countries and worked in the worst situations imaginable. He has endured sickness, chiggers, allergic reactions, extremely dangerous work environments and has devoted his life and all the energy he has to provide a good living for his family. However, like all of us, along the way, he experienced some “engine fails”, “a few accidents”, “accumulated some rust”, at times he has even felt like “retiring to the back yard” and giving up. BUT…. The transformation I’ve seen in my husband is far more miraculous than the restoration of the beloved Mustang.

You see, our marriage, like others, has always struggled, however, a few years ago, Paul started reading the Book of Mormon. I know it sounds simple and crazy, but please ask him yourself if you don’t believe me. This book has changed his life. Paul has always been a hard worker, an incredible provider, and a good dad, but the man I know now is something far more.

As Paul has come to know his Father in Heaven and his Savior, Jesus Christ, he has softened. He started to have a desire to be like them. The shame he had always lived with changed to a healthy dose of guilt and as he gave his regrets to the Savior, Paul miraculously began to love him self. As Paul grew to love himself and be compassionate toward him self, he was then able to love others. As Paul has studied the life of Christ, he has become more like him. Paul is kind and gentle and radiates peace, where as before he was anxious, uptight and short tempered. Paul has learned that the Priesthood of God, is not strong handed authority, but rather tender and gentle love, the love of Christ. Paul used to cope with the difficulties of life by checking out, distancing himself, or avoiding….. now, he chooses to have the courage to stay. Paul chooses to stay present, without substance, but with the assistance of the Savior. When Paul finds himself raising his voice or becoming frustrated he goes in the bedroom, closes the door and kneels on the pillow he leaves at the side of his bed. He reads from scriptures he leaves open on the bed until he calms down, and then he prays. Every morning when Paul gets out of bed and each night before retiring, he kneels on this same pillow and reads from this book that has changed him.

The Mustang has a new engine and Paul has a new heart. The Mustang has a new paint job, interior and windows, and Paul has a new outlook on life. (not to mention a super hot bod from his commitment to the gym every morning) The Mustang is proof that with enough hard work, the right people, a few miracles and dedication, things that appear to be junk can be transformed into something INCREDIBLE, and Paul is proof that with Jesus Christ and His atonement, we humans can be made into far more than we ever imagined.

The changes I’ve seen in Paul are limitless and I am not the only blessed recipient of this new man, however, I am probably the most blessed. Paul doesn’t forget a birth date, anniversary or holiday. For the past few years Paul has done the 12 days of Christmas for me. Having a son who’s fighting cancer is no easy task and Paul is constantly aware of me and my needs, making sure both my mental and physical health is attended to. He has become the quiet strength in the back ground, constantly asking if I am okay and asking what he can do. He makes sure the countless medical bills get paid, the house work I don’t get to gets done, and the groceries I am too overwhelmed to pick up are brought home. Paul finds joy in serving others, he has cleaned our boys rooms and made their beds so many times, I’ve noticed they have started making their beds themselves. Paul makes sure the laundry gets done when I’m struggling to get through each day and when I can’t quite get it together enough to fix dinner he offers to bring dinner home.

Just as change never comes easily and often takes a very hot refiners fire for us to be molded into the person we are meant to be. The Mustang’s restoration came about through some extremely rough circumstances. When our son, Riley was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, he was nominated by his younger brother to have the opportunity to “make a wish” through Make-A-Wish. Riley’s wish was to have the Mustang restored and Paul was more than happy to give this car to his son. While the circumstances that brought about the miraculous change in the Mustang are my biggest heart ache, the tragedy was the cause of change. With the help of Make-A-Wish, Rob Staker at Riverton Rods and Rides transformed that heap of rust into the coolest car on the road. Adversity is never fun and we all have our fair share, however, when we embrace it, look for the lesson to be learned and allow it to, it can make us more than we ever imagined.

For many years I have prayed for Paul. I have begged God to help Paul overcome the obstacles in his way and be the man God wants him to be. Through some pretty hot fires, Paul has been molded and shaped into someone amazing and has realized his worth. I am so, so grateful to be blessed with such an incredible husband, I know this is a blessing that many women desire. In no way is our marriage perfect, we have a long ways to go, however, it is far better than it has ever been and better than I ever imagined 28 years ago. It was worth the wait!

I love you Paul. Thank you for turning to the Lord, it is the sexiest thing a man can do and I am eternally grateful for your desire to be the best man you can be. I am the luckiest woman in the world.