Monday, August 3, 2015

You're Short, I'm Tall.

So, us newlyweds have officially been married for 3 months... That's like 1/4 of a year! Nothing makes me more happy then to have my Braiden by my side through every up and down of life. And yes, there can be that many up and downs in just 3 months! 

Anyways, I decided to share with you all something about Braiden and I that makes us pretty unusual and AWESOME. Some of you may have noticed already, or maybe you haven't! I thought that it would be fun to fill you all in on my thoughts and feelings about ME (6 FEET TALL) marrying BRAIDEN (5 FEET 7 INCHES) because most are probably exactly how I felt in the fact that there is just absolutely no way a girl should marry a guy shorter than her. Let alone 5 inches shorter. :) Hopefully after you are done reading this you will realize just like I did that height really does not matter, and... you don't always have to go with the norm. 

Alright, so my entire life, height was always such a huge deal to me. With me being tall, I always knew that I was going to date and marry someone at least 6'4. Yeah I know that sounds picky and ridiculously tall, but I had to be able to wear heels people! So that was it. I never even considered dating someone shorter. The thought never even crossed my mind! Nor would I let it. 

Now, lets fast forward time a little bit to the mission. I met Braiden, and like I said, he instantly became one of my really good friends.  But that was all to me. I do recall that I would think about how easy he was to talk to and how amazing of a person he was, and how I loved being with him, but then those thoughts would quickly dwindle away because he was just way too short for me! No no no. I just left it at that, and enjoyed the time that I got to chat with him. After the 9 months that I never saw him, we finally saw each other at a conference down in Laoag. I was so excited to see my favorite elder again, and I was quickly let down, when he wouldn't say a word to me. (There is a story behind why he was like this.) Anyways, he just gave me one worded answers no matter what I asked him. I was appalled! And then I went back to my area that was far away and started asking myself... Wait, why do I care if he talks to me or not? I don't even like him... Then I just came up with the reason that I could be bugged because we were good friends! Come on! 

And then I got transferred to the same area he was in... I couldn't deny that I had a crush on him, but I didn't want anyone to know because the tall sister can't like the short elder! At that time, I just wanted him to go home already! And then the battle began within myself... This kid is 5 inches shorter than I am... It won't work. That's what I kept telling myself. Oh I can't even count how many times I tried to talk myself out of liking him. After he went home, it felt better because he was never around and I could think things out haha. I remember some conversations I had with one of my companions who is not even 5 foot. Yeah, even though we are sister missionaries, we still talk about boys. At this point I realized how much I liked Braiden and I began talking my way into it. I told my companion, "Ah he has every single thing I would want in a husband besides his height. Like seriously everything, but that." She was one that told me that it would just be unpleasant to look at a couple where the girl is tall and the guy is short! So then I asked her, "Okay, how would you feel if a guy told you that you are perfect and what he wants, but you are just way too short? Or, how would I feel if a guy wouldn't marry me only because I was too tall. Which is something we can not control!" We both came to the conclusion that we would both be heart broken if someone was to say that to us. And from then on I decided that I wanted to be with Braiden and that I was going to set aside the whole height thing because it really didn't matter! But it wasn't as easy as I am making it sound. I remember praying and asking for help to overcome that because it was something I would be so uncomfortable with and something I have never experienced. Guys, it was rough! That height difference was basically against everything I believed in haha! I loved him though.

When I met with my mission president in my departing interview, the whole thing was about Braiden, and I will never forget what President Barrientos said to me when I told him my concern about our heights. He told me, "Sister Wood, it is not about how tall he is, all that matters is how tall his spirit is." Bam. Done. The Spirit really touched me and helped me feel like everything would be just fine, and it is okay to be different than the social norm!

I was anxious to see how it would actually be in person, and to see if my feelings would change about our heights. When we aren't missionaries, and we are out on a date or something. So when he came out to visit, I was so nervous. Oh my.. But you know what, it wasn't bad. Yes, it took some time to get used to! I mean it would for anyone. Everything is different! I knew that I wanted to marry him, and I didn't care about how tall he was. Of course me being a girl thought about things like, "Ugh what are our wedding photos going to look like? Cause I am taller than him! We can't do all those cute poses of me standing on my tippy toes and stuff! " Come on Courtnee, our wedding photos aren't going to give us salvation! I had to get over stuff like that quick, and I was so grateful that I did by looking at the eternal scheme of things. And like seriously, our engagement photos and stuff couldn't have turned out better! I am in love with all of them. It's all in what you make it, and it was kinda fun having to be a little more creative than usual!

Location: St. George, Utah

Obviously with time, it has gotten easier. The occasional stares from strangers in public, and the whispers we hear remind me that I am taller than him by a lot, but Braiden is usually the one that notices people doing that! We did have one experience at Costa Vida a while ago where one of the workers was laughing and basically making fun of us to another co-worker. I think that was the first time that it bothered Braiden, but I just told him to let it go! I mean look at us, we are so happy! Why should anyone else's opinion matter? They don't. :) 

Now, I have to stop and think to realize that I am taller than Braiden! It's just a part of our life. And there is nothing wrong with it at all. I love Braiden so much and I know that I was supposed to be with him. I am so grateful for him, because you'd think that for a guy, their pride would be shot if they were that much shorter than their wife. He has never once said anything about it. If it ever gets brought up it is because of me. He is such a saint and has been such a good example to me about what really matters. Totally cliche, but we were a match made in heaven. 

I was really excited to show all of you our wedding photos. Like I said earlier, I had always been nervous about they would turn out. Kailey Rae Photography did them, and she was amazing. She was so great about being creative with different shots and stuff. When I looked through them when I got them back, I couldn't have been more happy with them. There were so many that you could totally see that I was taller than Braiden. You know what, I was really glad they were like. It showed the way Braiden and I actually are! It's so real! It's so us! They were perfect, and I couldn't have been happier with them! I have learned to completely embrace who we are, and lots of times that includes a good laugh because they just don't look "normal!" 
Enjoy these too:

He is standing on the step above me in these ones. ;)


Photography: Kailey Rae Photography

I want all of you to know that we don't have to be like the world. I am not telling you all to go marry guys shorter than you, this could be for anything! Going against the social norm was difficult, but I AM SO HAPPY because it was the right thing to do! Isn't that how God wants us all to be? The blessings have been amazing! Whether it is with fashion/modesty, or friends tempting you to do the wrong things. Whatever it may be in your life, you don't need to be like everyone else. You need to be what the Lord wants you to be. I know that the Lord wanted me to marry this incredible man that's a bit shorter than me even though we might not look picture perfect to the world when walking around town! It is hard to go against what is socially accepted in our world, but through faith and courage, you can do it. I promise. And God will help us through the whole thing. I would have never imagined in a million years that I would end up marrying 5'7 Braiden, but every single day I am reminded why the Lord lead me to him. He is everything I am not! Including his height! :) I could write forever about how much I love him. 
He is Sexy.... -- (Braiden's addition to this post.) 
But I agree. What a blessing it is to be sealed to him for all eternity. 

Before I end, here's a little shout out to Filipinos, because I love them to death. When Braiden and I were on our honeymoon, we were on a cruise, and a lot of the workers were Filipino. The night of the dressy dinner on the ship I wore 4 inch heels hahaha. They all knew we spoke tagalog, so they would make comments to us. When they saw us that night, one of them said, "Ang laki ng asawa mo brother!" Your wife is so big! And then all the other Filipinos join in saying how its okay if I am taller, and that it doesn't matter, AND how alot of their parents are like that! They seriously are the most loving people and know how to make you feel good! :) And yeah, you might think I am ridiculous for wearing heels still, but I mean why not? Five inches and nine inches is basically the same thing. :) 

Courtnee Van Brunt

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Where I Am Now

Alright, before I start talking about myself, I have got to thank all of you who followed my mission through this blog. It made me feel so good to know that people were interested in what I had to say even when I was on the other side of the world in the beautiful Philippines. And, it motivated me to keep writing home faithfully about my week. So thank you everyone. I basically owe it to you for the novels of letters I now have to look back on about the best 18 months that changed my life. 
So, there may be some of you who are interested as to what I am up to now. Or maybe none of you are which is totally cool. Either way, I figured I would give an update on where life has taken me, but most importantly the plan that Heavenly Father has given me after returning from serving him full-time. It’s pretty easy for me to say that ever since I received that prompting in 2013 to serve a mission, nothing has been what I ever envisioned my life to be like. Oh my gosh, IT’S BETTER!

The story goes like this: When I arrived at the Laoag Airport as a new missionary, we were picked up by our mission president and the office elders. As I was carrying my heavy giraffe luggage over to the van, one of the kind elders approached me and introduced himself. He was Elder Van Brunt, and he offered to take my bags. Now if you were to ask him how it went, he would say that he kindly introduced himself to me, and I just told him to take my bags. Either story you want to believe, this was the first time I ever met Braiden. For him it was love at first sight. :) From that point, he was the elder that was so easy to talk to and fun to be around. I looked at him as a great friend and was so grateful that I had him to chat with! We served in the same zone in my first area in Laoag, and then I didn’t see him for about 9 months. The last 4 1/2 months of my mission I was assigned in San Nicolas where he was already serving and where he also ended his mission. I was so excited to transfer there because some of my favorites were assigned there, with Elder Van Brunt obviously being my all time favorite. :) As time started to dwindle down for him to go home, I noticed that my feelings started to grow for this Elder. I did everything I could to talk myself out of it, because he wasn't what I always imagined myself being with. That didn’t last long. Our mission president knew about it, and was ALL FOR IT. Braiden and I kept everything extremely professional and how relationships should be between elders and sisters. Braiden went home in October and his parents went and picked him up and he was released there. Yeah yeah yeah, I got to meet them in the Philippines. :) Before he went home I gave President a little letter and gift thing for him to give Braiden in his departing interview. Cheesy I know. The letter wasn’t all lovey dovey, it was meant to be hard to read and play hard to get, but Braiden saw right through that. He left me a letter that basically explained how he felt about me, along with a shirt that said, “My <3’s in Missouri.” (That’s where Braiden is from.) So from then on, Braiden emailed me for the remaining 6 weeks that I had in the field. Our feelings grew rapidly for each other and I fell in love with this amazing person. Here is some evidence of how I fell for him in such a short time, and… how dramatic I am. This was on a Monday, so I had gotten an email from him, and this is what I said about it. “Holy. Crap. Like oh my gosh! He is everything. He is everything I am not! I want my husband to be him. I know our life would be difficult, but I can’t stop thinking more about how AMAZING our life would be. There would never be a dull moment. Every day would be an adventure, and every day I would become a better person because of him. I now see what God thinks is a perfect plan for me. He IS the husband material I have always “dreamed” about. I can’t believe he even likes me. God is too good to me. I have a lot of repaying to do.” Okay Courtnee, settle down. :)

Laoag. Hi baby face! :)
San Nicolas

Six weeks later in November, I returned home and was released as a full-time missionary. That night before I went to sleep I made a late phone call to the man in Missouri, and that was the start of nightly phone calls for the next couple of weeks. Soon after that, he had made plans to come out to Utah to visit family, (or visit me), and he spent 11 days with my family and I. I know that in his head, he already knew we were getting married, but I was being the one that was thinking it was all too fast! Even though I knew he was the one. We spent Christmas apart and then he moved out here to Utah to be with me. Though at first I was the one putting a hold on any further progression of our relationship, in the end, I was the one asking Braiden, “WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET ENGAGED?” So on January 31, 2015, Braiden asked me to be with him forever and he did it in the celestial room at the Bountiful temple. I felt so blessed for the chance I was given to be with Braiden. One of the things that Braiden wrote in his letter to me when he was leaving the Philippines was that “Blessings can come instantly.” I am so grateful for Heavenly Father and the blessings he gives us. Braiden being my biggest. That night I wrote in my journal (you all know how obsessed I am with documenting things), and it says, “I’m so excited to be with him. The beautiful ring on my finger is a constant reminder to me of Braiden and eternity. I am so happy that he chose me and that I chose him. Even though our beginning started when our spirits were created, this is our beginning here on earth into the eternities and I would’t want to do it with anyone else.” 

The night we got engaged!
A shower we had in Missouri.

The 3 months of being engaged trickled by… oh my gosh it went by so slow. Over that time I fell more and more in love with Braiden and we were both so ready to be married. On May 1, 2015, 5 months after returning from the Philippines, at 3:00 PM we were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. It was the most beautiful day of our lives thus far. The Spirit and happiness that was felt is indescribable. I know every bride says their wedding day was perfect, BUT I MEAN IT! I remember telling my mom as she was helping me get my dress on and flowers and stuff that I would be totally content with just going home now. The experience at the temple would outweigh any celebration we would have and I would have been fine with leaving it at that. But… of course we had something afterwards. I decided from the get go that I didn’t want a reception. So after being married at 3pm, we took photos with our incredible families, and then at 6pm we had a dinner at the Joseph Smith Building. Here I go again saying how perfect it was. It was just so relaxing! I mean I don’t know how other bride’s wedding days are, but this day was so stress free, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It all turned out beautiful. Of course my favorite part was Braiden singing “I Choose You” to me by Andy Grammar. Braiden is amazing. In every way, and I’m not being bias. ;) He has taught me how to love, and given me someone TO love! 

4 girls in my family, 4 girls in his. :)

So there you have it. This is where I am now. I am more then happily married to my Elder Van Brunt. ;) Just kidding, to my Braiden. He makes life so much fun just like I anticipated it would. I know this is a long update on my life, but just trust me when I say it could have been 10x longer. The story of Braiden and I will always be so special to me, and quite honestly I need to write it into a book. YES, there are that many details I didn’t include. What an amazing feeling it is to be married to someone who loves the Gospel just as much I do. And as we live it daily, that is where our happiness comes from. I would have to say that Braiden and I are not your normal couple. For many reasons, but don’t worry, I will be sure to write about that at some point. :) I know that God’s plan for me is so amazing! It’s the coolest thing ever. Even if it has brought me down roads I never thought I’d pass. Always trust Him, He knows what’s best. Sometimes He will even send you to the other side of the world to serve Him for you to find out what is best for your life. :)

Courtnee Van Brunt

I will put more wedding photos on in another post!
Wedding photography: Kailey Rae Photography