It is so fun for me to watch Dennis with kids. Last Saturday, we went to the baptism of our good friend’s niece. She had received a nice framed photo with some ribbon around it, and she wanted to take the ribbon off so she could take a photo with it. She was struggling for a few minutes, and without a word, Dennis just went over to help. Later that day, our 3-year old niece experienced some mild trauma with her cousin of the same age pouring water on her. I picked her up and brought her in the house and Dennis was coming around the corner with a towel in hand. I absolutely love that he steps in to help in such practical ways. <3
So, Valerie is writing this post. Shocker, I know 🙂
On Sunday, a man that we consider to be a prophet, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, invited all the youth, their parents, and their leaders to make some changes in their lives. The first, and the only one I will talk about here, is the “7-day social media fast.” Basically, sign off of social media for one week, and use that time to connect with others IRL (in real life, for those who do not speak teenager), and to connect with Heavenly Father.
As a leader of the 16-18 year old girls in my congregation, I decided to participate. It was a hard decision for me, as we have some facebook ads running for our adoption search. I worried that not posting for a week would hinder our chances of connecting with a birth family. As I lay awake Sunday night mulling all of this over, I came to the realization that if I really believe that President Nelson is a prophet of God, and if I really believe that God has power to bless my life for being obedient to his prophet’s counsel, I need to choose to trust and be obedient. So I deleted the social media apps from my phone and started my 7-day social media fast.
Now, there are some who would claim that writing this blog is social media… I look at it more as journaling 🙂 Maybe it’s a stretch, but in order to make this a non-social media post, I turned off commenting and my automatic feed to facebook and twitter, at least for these seven days.
What I really wanted to share is that just in one 24 hour period, I have vacuumed my house, done three loads of laundry, had two meaningful scripture studies, and read some magazine articles at night before going to sleep. I slept better and I feel better and I have been more connected and sensitive to spiritual things.
I noticed throughout the day that I would pick up my phone and try to check facebook, instagram, and twitter, only to realize they weren’t there. It was eye opening to me how often throughout the day I do that out of habit.
One day down, six to go. I’m so far really grateful for this opportunity.
A typical year in the life of Dennis and Valerie, as posted on Valerie’s instagram… actually, not-so-typical, as 2017 included buying a house, Dennis getting a new job, and hosting an exchange student! The year certainly held adventures for us. We love our life together and we hope soon to share it with some kiddos!
The same week that our home study was approved, we had the opportunity to submit our profile to an expectant mother who was choosing an adoption plan for her baby. We were so hopeful. We wrote a personal letter to her and we prayed that she would choose us.
She didn’t. We cried.
It reminded me a lot of dating. You may be the most awesome person in the world, but if the other person doesn’t love you or want to be with you, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You just have to move on. A good match (in dating/marriage or adoption) is mutual. Both parties have to be invested in the match for it to work. You can’t pray away someone else’s choice.
There is so much emotion involved in adoption. And the expectant mother has every right and responsibility to select an adoptive family that she feels is best for her baby. Our responsibility is to continue to be ourselves and hope that something about us resonates with an expectant mother.
So we move on and wait for the next opportunity to share who we are. Right now, we are grateful to even be considered as an adoptive family. It is a privilege to be in the running.
Thank you to everyone who is helping us connect with women considering an adoption plan. We appreciate you <3
Dennis and I love our life together. We have built a solid, loving relationship, and we laugh every day. Some of you may think that is impossible, but I assure you, there is laughter every single day. Dennis makes sure of it! He is always doing something to make me smile or laugh. He would say that one of his favorite things is that I laugh so easily. But really, he is so dang funny. He has a very dry sense of humor, and he is so quiet in public that when his wit does come out, you can’t help but laugh. He has such great timing! He is also not above goofiness. I think I’m one of the few lucky people in the world to witness his “Barton Bop” dance moves. Or his “old man” walk. Or how he talks to our dogs in a made up language. I could go on….
But what is on my mind today is how we intentionally decide every day to love each other. We talk often about “what it takes” to make a great marriage. This was one of the things that attracted us to each other in the first place. We both had thought about what we really want in a relationship, and we talked about that in our first conversation. It was a great start and we are grateful to have that foundation.
There’s a poem by Hartley Coleridge that asks, “Is love a fancy or a feeling?” I say it is neither. Love is action. It is service, it is sacrifice, it is selflessness, it is forgiving, it is kind, and it is glorious.
And it takes work. Love does not happen by accident.
We firmly believe that no one “falls” in or out of love. That implies that will and choice are not involved. But love is a choice. We choose to give our heart to someone. We choose to be in love and we choose not to be in love.
When you are just too tired to move and your spouse asks you to let the dogs out and you do, you choose love. When you see that your spouse is too tired to move and you let the dogs out yourself, you choose love. When you choose to spend time with someone, learn about them, trust them with your secrets, hold their secrets, and speak kindly to and about them, you choose love. When you avoid conversation that is sarcastic and biting, when you bite your tongue and wait a minute before saying something that might be hurtful, when you see your whole spouse (warts and all) and focus on the good in them, you choose love. When your spouse lets an unkind word slip out and you forgive them, you choose love. When you take out the garbage or do the dishes or organize the garage or replace the toilet paper or do a load of laundry, you choose love. When you actively and consciously avoid even a hint of infidelity, you choose love. When you kiss at red lights because it is tradition even when you are having an argument, you choose love. When you tell your spouse what you admire and appreciate about them, you choose love.
The magical thing is that when you choose love in those moments when you may not feel love, your heart softens and the feelings of love come flooding back. Strong marriages are built on choosing love over and over and over again.
This is what Dennis and I have chosen. We choose to be madly in love. We choose to live happily, ridiculously, madly in love. <3 We choose it today and we will choose it tomorrow.
I think that may be a good start to being decent parents. What do you think?
We are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We believe that God is our Father, and that He loves us like a Father loves His child.
We believe that Heavenly Father has given us this earth life to progress, to learn, to grow, and to become like Him. Because we are not perfect, and we cannot return to Him unless we become so, Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bridge the gap.
Because of Jesus Christ, we are blessed with mercy and forgiveness. His grace allows us to become better than we are, to overcome our weaknesses, and to be forgiven of our sins.
There is hope and joy and light and laughter to be had in life. We try to live a life of happiness and love.
If you want to know more about our faith, click the link below.
We are so excited to be on this journey. We have family that have adopted, have been adopted, and that have placed their babies for adoption. We are no strangers to the world of adoption, though we are just entering it ourselves. Our goal is to adopt a baby or a child under age 2. We are open to all races and backgrounds.
We believe that the most selfless thing a woman can do is place her child’s future before her own feelings. Because of that belief, we feel strongly about making sure our child knows who his or her birth mom is and that it was a supreme act of love by an incredibly brave soul. In our home, there is no such thing as being “given up.” There is no such thing as being “unwanted”. Our child will know that he or she is loved not only by us, but also by the brave woman who made the choice to place her child in our home.
If you are contemplating placing your baby with us, please know that we have far more gratitude in our hearts for you than we could ever express. If you or someone you know is contemplating placing a baby, please message us, either here or through Facebook. We will respond quickly.
She is probably looking over at Dennis who is doing something silly to make her laugh. Valerie has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science that she does nothing with (she even occasionally ends sentences with a preposition). She often says that her degree helped her prove to herself that she secretly hated politics. She started out as a music major, focusing in vocal performance. Her lifelong goal has been to be a wife and mother, and she switched majors so that she could more fully focus on evening and weekend time with her family.
Valerie works for a local OBGYN company as an Executive Assistant. She’s worked in that field for 13+ years. She loves the company where she works and will likely remain with them in some capacity as long as she remains in the job market.
Valerie is generally a very happy person. She is outgoing and enjoys getting to know new people. She finds people to be fascinating. She loves to find out what motivates them and drives them, and will often point to a person walking down the street and wonder out loud what their life is like. Valerie is motivated by other people’s needs and wants. She loves to try to make other people, especially her family, comfortable and happy.
In college, Valerie performed in a number of musical theatre productions in character roles. Her favorite role of all time was as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. She loves to sing and dance, though these days it’s mostly around the house. Valerie has sung in many, many choirs over the years. She even made a CD that only her mom listens to.
She likes to run in the early, early morning, but hates to run in the afternoon or evening. Valerie’s running playlist is exclusively Disney songs. She loves going to concerts with her hubby and really enjoys the vinyl collection they are building together.
She’s a pretty okay gal, and her husband thinks she is all that.
Isn’t he dreamy? Dennis is a high school English teacher, and he’s really good at it. He’s been teaching for about 8 years. He has a Master’s in curriculum and instruction, and hopes to transition into training teachers and working on curriculum development. Dennis works hard to ensure that his students are learning, growing, and progressing. He is famous for giving them challenging assignments, and is happy when they put forth the effort to accomplish their goals.
Dennis an introvert. He does not enjoy big social gatherings, and more content watching the Super Bowl with his wife than with “the boys”.
Dennis is a poet, though not many people are lucky enough to be allowed to read his poems. Poetry is his personal outlet, much like a journal. He enjoys watching performance poets like Anis Mojgani. He also loves to create things… paintings, home improvement stuff, etc.
He’s sensitive, deep, thoughtful, and principled. He stands for and defends the things he believes in.
When he is not working, Dennis spends time listening to and collecting vinyl records. His favorite bands are Radiohead, The Shins, The Decemberists, and Elliott Smith, but you can also catch him emphatically rapping along to 90s rap. It took his wife by surprise the first time she experienced Slick Rick’s Children’s Story come out of Dennis’ mouth! His tastes are varied, and he can listen to classical, post rock, indie, rap, alternative, hipster, emo, and so many other genres that his wife has a hard time keeping up.
Dennis played basketball in high school, until a knee injury thwarted his dreams of being a Kentucky Wildcat. He thoroughly enjoys sports and has introduced Valerie to the Super Bowl, March Madness, and shows like Pardon the Interruption and The Dan Patrick Show.
Dennis enjoys traveling, going to concerts with his wife, watching sports, and doing anything and everything he can to make Valerie happy.