Now, I’m a self-confessed writer and a long time lover of fairy tales, so I can’t help thinking that the best stories start with “Once upon a time…” So what better way to start the story of my life?

Once upon a time…there was a girl named Kimberly. I was a good girl for the most part, except when it came to eating vast quantities of cookies and perhaps not being too quick to do my chores when I had a good book on the go.

I was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though I was given opportunities to learn many things through church activities, I focused pretty much exclusively on my love of music and literature. Alas, anything I do with my hands tends to go amiss. Plants die. Thread knots. Baking burns. I find my greatest joy in writing, playing piano, and singing. At the age of thirty (that’d be now) it hit me that my talents fit well with motherhood. I’m finding ways to incorporate music and storytelling into the raising of my children.

I met my husband Neil at the age of twenty-two while sorting apples at a church welfare orchard. Talk about being blessed for giving service, eh? We were married the following year and awhile later moved to Forest Grove, Oregon where my husband attended Optometry school. We felt strongly, and had it confirmed through much prayer, that is was not yet time for us to have children. Now that was a tough prayer to accept the answer to! But as time passed the reasons for waiting became clear. Even so it was difficult to wait, but it was all the sweeter when Emma Ann arrived in June 2004 and Rebecca Lynn in January 2006.

When Neil graduated in May 2006 we moved to a small town in Northern British Columbia, where the church congregation [branch] ranges from 20-40 people attending each Sunday. Having grown up in a congregation of approximately 200, the change was a bit of a shock. Slowly we began to adjust, though it was difficult at first. There’s something about a small group that really hits home just how individual we all are. Dramas tend to escalate more quickly, rumours spread with a disturbing amount of speed, and if you want to avoid someone it’s awfully difficult to pull off.

I won’t deny it, I felt uncomfortable and out of place for quite some time. As the months went by though, I slowly came to know every individual in our congregation. Personality quirks began to make more sense, and as I learned the history of certain of our brothers and sisters, any frustrations I had had with them melted away and instead I was overcome by feelings of compassion and love. There are things I have learned here that I simply couldn’t have learned elsewhere. I’ve learned more about being Christ-like in the past three years than I learned in the rest of my life put together. Sometimes it takes extreme situations to help us learn what our Heavenly Father would have us learn. It’s been an amazing and awe-inspiring experience.

Last year was a year of intense changes for us. We bought our first house. We bought the Vision Clinic where Neil had been working. I had my first miscarriage. And then Neil was called to be the leader [branch president] of our small unit of quirky, but loveable saints. It hasn’t been easy for him. Neil is a kind, man with a generous heart, but he has little patience for unkindness in others. I’ve been able to share some of what I have come to feel and know about the people in our branch, to help him understand them better. This has strengthened our marriage exponentially, as I’ve felt the joy of helping him through a challenging experience, and he’s found new respect for me and the blessing my different perspective can be.

We are closer now than we ever have been, and as we look forward to the arrival of our third little girl this December, we know more than ever that the struggles we’ve experienced as individuals and as a couple have helped strengthen us for whatever might lie ahead. And as we teach our children a love of their Savior we experience afresh our own love for Him.

And I can’t help thinking…not bad for a chore-shirking, cookie-binging bookworm.

For more Portraits of Mormon Women, please click here.