Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our first Thanksgiving :)

I know I am a bit behind on my posts.  So much has happened in such a short time that it's hard to keep up.  These are photos from our first Thanksgiving together.  We had lunch at my cousin, Jeanie's house and then headed over to my mom's house for dinner.  Thanksgiving is usually pretty low key for my family.  It involves eating lots of food, lounging, looking at adds, and plotting our shopping trip for the next day.

My cousins came in from North Carolina with their two kiddos so it was nice to catch up with them and have an opportunity to beat the men in euchre - lol.  My brother left for California the next day for a three month nursing job in Laguna Beach so it was good to spend time with him before he left as well.  We had dinner at my mom's and the kids played board games all night.  They actually played an entire game of monopoly (which is one of my favorite games!!).

 The next morning I woke up at 4am to go shopping with my mom and sister.  We always have so much fun amongst all the chaos.  I got all of my shopping done in one day.  I even bought my bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding :)

Thanksgiving was extra special this year.  I have six healthy kids, one amazing husband, a wonderful family, and a group of friends that are awesome!!!  God has done great things for us and we are filled with joy :)  I am thankful for His beautiful story of redemption in our lives. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Our wedding | Part six of our love story :)

I know we had a short engagement but to be honest it felt like the wedding wouldn't come soon enough!!  I was so in love with Brian and every day I got more and more excited about sharing my life with him.  I wanted to spend every minute with him.  My whole world lights up when he is around.  When I talk about him I just glow :)

Our entire wedding was a labor of love put together by friends and family that love us dearly.  I always thought it would be neat to get married outdoors. The idea of getting married in an old rustic barn had crossed my mind as we started talking about getting married in the Fall.  Our friend, Leslie, out of the blue mentioned that it would be cool if we could get married in her in-laws barn in Avon.  As soon as she mentioned it we knew we wanted to have our wedding there.  The Dragons, the owners of the barn and property, were thrilled to let us use their barn at no cost (praise number one).

We found out along the way that another couple was going to get married in the same barn two weeks before us.  They ended up cleaning out the entire barn (pressure washed the floors, prepared it fully, and decorated the barn beautifully (praise number two).  They contacted us to let us know that we could use any of their decorations that we wanted for our wedding (praise three).  We were able to use all of their decorations which saved us a ton of money!!

Our friends and family were so excited for us and for God's story of redemption in our lives.  Everyone wanted to help out.  We started receiving emails, letter, facebook messages, etc.. from friends, family, and even people we barely knew.  These were an amazing encouragement to us.  The letters were filled with words of love written out of hearts that had been praying for us for a long time.  Our marriage was an answer to many prayers lifted up on our behalf.  It brings me tears just thinking about it.
We wanted to have a dinner at our wedding so a friend suggested a pitch-in dinner.  We thought about it and decided it was a great idea.  Everyone was volunteering to help and they all wanted to be a part of our special day so we asked everyone to bring a dish to share instead of a gift.  It was the most beautiful dinner, made with love, that I had ever seen (praise number four).  Our parents paid for an awesome barbecue dinner with pulled chicken and pork.  Our friends brought mashed potatoes, corn casseroles, rolls, a chocolate fountain with fruit and other goodies, tons of side dishes, drinks, etc... It was perfect!!! 
Brian had a friend that volunteered her time and talent to make our wedding cake for us, again at no cost (praise number five).  The cake was awesome!!!  We were so thankful for the time and energy it took her and her mom to make this masterpiece :)

My friend, Becky, volunteered to be our "wedding coordinator".  The day wouldn't have been the same without her.  She made our wedding sign, my bouquet, and Brian's boutonniere, she bought the chalkboard for our program, decorated the entire barn, made the kids treat sacks for the table, added special touches all over the barn ("W" coasters on the tables, sparkling cider on the kids table, crayons in cute metal "W" containers, etc...)  She put everything together and made the barn look magical!!(praise six) 
I wasn't sure how the weather would turn out the day of the wedding so I asked if anyone had heaters we could borrow.  I had a number of responses and had more heaters than we needed.(praise seven).

 Being a photographer myself, I knew that capturing this day in photos was very important to me.  I had no idea who I would hire to capture the special story of our wedding.  I had an acquaintance ask me to have lunch with her to throw some photography ideas around.  She had some questions about photography and I was thrilled to have someone to talk "shop" with.  We met for lunch and ended up talking about God the entire time.  I had never seen her work before and this was our first time ever meeting.  She had an amazing story of God's work in her own life.  Her husband was tragically paralyzed in a lawn mower accident several years ago and their entire life changed because of it.  Our stories were different but the author of them was the same.  We have both grown and changed for the better because of the difficulties we experienced.  I knew in my spirit that I wanted her to be the one to photograph our wedding.  We talked it over and she felt that God wanted her to do my wedding as well. Our wedding would be her second wedding to photograph.  I didn't have one doubt about her being our photographer.  She did an amazing job capturing our special day and presented us with the most amazing wedding photos!!!  I LOVE them!!(Praise number eight).

There was an old chandelier in the barn that didn't work b/c the wiring had been cut.  Brian's brother was able to rewire it and have it working for the wedding.  His sister-in-law decorated the food station in the barn and helped put up lights.  My family from California (Dad and Brenda) put the wine labels on for us.  My mom bought all sorts of candles and candle holders for the tables and around the barn.  My Dad, Gary, and his wife, Pam, put candles in all of the empty candle holders.  We had tons of friends and family show up at the barn the night before the wedding to help decorate, put up tables and chairs, and get the barn ready.  My friend, Leslie, made the "Just Married" sign you see in the photos.  Our friends from Broad Ripple, Erin and Bob, made all the carmel apples for us (70 of them!!!).  The worship band from church and my b/f/f, Carol, did all the music for the wedding.  They sounded beautiful!!!  My friend, Jennifer, sells the most gorgeous jewelery for "Stella and Dot" and she gave me all the jewelry to wear for my wedding.  I could go on and on and on about the million other little things that people did to make our day special for us. (Praise nine through one hundred :) 

There are no words to describe the way our hearts felt that night about our friends and family.  We felt truly blessed!!  I think I will write another post about our wedding ceremony and the thoughts I had that day.  There is so much to write about!!  Part seven will cover our wedding day, my thoughts about becoming a mom of six, and the way my heart leaped out of my chest when our pastor announced us "husband and wife"   Stay tuned . . . . . . 

P.S. I forgot to mention that my mom and I went shopping for a wedding dress after I got engaged and I literally bought the second dress I tried on.  It was inexpensive and beautiful (PRAISE GOD)   

Friday, December 3, 2010

Part 5 of our love story - He asked me to be his wife :)

Brian started looking at rings and secretly asked my family and my best friend to get involved in picking one out.  He asked me to go with him to look at rings so he could get an idea of what I liked.  What I liked was him :)  I would have been happy with anything he picked out b/c I wasn't focused on the ring, I was focused on being his future wife.  I felt like the most blessed girl in the world.  I was crazy about this man. 

Brian asked my dad to lunch so he could ask him if he could marry me.  He then took my mom and Kevin out and asked them if he could marry me.  I laughed when Brian said he was sweating during his dinner with my mom and Kevin and was worried he might not make the cut - ha ha.  My family had seen me go through pain in the past and they were prepared with a long list of questions for Brian to make sure he was the real deal.  It didn't take long for them to see that he was an amazing guy and that He was crazy about their daughter and planned to take very good care of her :)  Funny side note . . . .My sister's boyfriend asked my dad the next day if he could marry Anna.  Neither of them (Brian nor Jerry) were aware that the other had asked my dad in the same week. 

Jerry proposed to Anna the day after he met with my dad.  Brian had planned to ask me the following week.  So the funny part is at church that Sunday Ben, our pastor, asked if anyone had any praises or prayer requests.  My dad stood right up and said "I am excited to announce that two of my daughters got engaged this weekend".  I stood up next to my dad and whispered "Dad I did not get engaged this weekend".  I thought he had lost his mind - ha ha.  The entire church was staring at us and I was two shades of red.  I clarified "I did not get engaged"  Our worship pastor, Mandy, said "Ok, congrats to Anna and Jerry but not to Loree and Brian"  It was so funny.  My dad evidently thought that since Brian had asked him if he could marry me that he was going to ask the very next day.  He says he will never live that one down as long as he lives - ha ha !!

Ok back to the story . . .  So he bought me a ring (the most beautiful ring I have ever seen!!).  I had no idea that he had purchased a ring.  I thought he was still in the looking stage.  He planned his proposal out and had planned on asking me to marry him at the "Rooftop Garden" at fountain square.  It was already closed for the season but he was pulling strings to make it happen.  This is where it gets funny . . . I knew we had plans to eat downtown and I had some good friends that had never met Brian so I thought it would be nice to invite them along :)  About an hour before we were to leave I told him that I invited them along and that we had picked a restaurant out called "The Villa" downtown.  He seemed a little flustered about it so I told him I could call them and cancel.  He didn't want to be obvious so he just went with it and we had a wonderful dinner with friends and he held off on his proposal - lol. 

The next morning we went to church and when we came in we noticed that my family was there (My mom, Kevin, My dad, Pam, Anna, and Jerry).  It was the first time that they had all been there at the same time.  We all sat together and then in the middle of service Brian whispered to me that he would be back in a minute.  He left and didn't come back for 10 or 15 minutes.  I started to get worried about him and then I noticed his truck pulling into the church parking lot (I could see the front doors from my seat).  His truck was for sale at the time and I remember thinking "Did he just leave church to go show someone his truck?".  This would have been totally out of character for him so I was totally confused.  He came back in and sat down by me.  He mumbled something like "I will tell you later". 

Towards the end of service Ben asked if anyone had anything else to share etc...Brian stood up and said "I have a testimony to share with everyone"  He grabbed my hand and asked me to come up front with him.  I was still clueless.  He started telling everyone what God had done in our lives and what He was continuing to do in our hearts and lives daily.  Then he started talking about me and how much he loved me . . .the rest is a bit of a blur.  He was talking about all the things he loved about me and about how he wanted to romance me for the rest of his life .   At that point I looked down and noticed something in his pocket (A ring box).

 My heart started to pound b/c it was at that point that I realized he was about to ask me to marry him.  I looked over at my family and my mom was crying (clue number two).  He got down on one knee in front of our family and friends and said "Can I have you forever?".  He stole the quote from his two year old son.  Leo had said to Brian a few weeks earlier "Daddy can I have you?"  We thought it was the cutest thing ever.  I said yes (of course) and that was the start of our engagement. 

Brian had no plans of asking me to marry him at church that day.  He said that when he walked into church and noticed that my family was there and many of our friends that he felt in his heart that this was the right day and time.  He left the church to go get my ring :)  He told my sister Anna that he was thinking about asking me at the end of church and she highly encouraged it - lol.  It was perfect.  I was only four weeks away from becoming Mrs.Wheeler.  Stay tuned for part 6 - The most beautiful day ever - Our wedding :)

P.S.  If I had known he was going to propose that day I wouldn't have dressed like Pocahontas :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankfulness - A matter of the heart

I am so thankful for this life I have been given.  As I look back on my life thus far I am reminded of how God's hand has been in my story all along.  My mom had me at age 17.  She could have chosen to give me up or to abort me.  She chose to keep me.  We didn't have much but I had the most amazing mom a girl could ever ask for.  She has always been a hard worker.  We had our own apartment and she worked two jobs to make sure I was cared for and that my needs were met.  I look back with fond memories of that brief time in my life that it was just her and I. 
My mom met and married a wonderful man when I was only six years old.  This man became an amazing father to me.  We had our moments, don't get me wrong, but I loved him and he loved me back.  I was blessed to have three siblings born out of this marriage.  They are my best friends to this day.  I lost contact with my biological dad for a period of years but we reconnected when I was in high school.  He is a wonderful person and I am thankful for the person he has become.  My life wasn't always rainbows and roses but I am so thankful for the life I have been privileged to live. 
I became a Christian at age 23.  My whole life changed.  I started to see things and situations and people through different lenses, Gods lenses.  My life wasn't about me anymore.  It started to revolve around others.  I met and married a wonderful man.  Our marriage was good at times and it was extremely hard at others.  Things happened that weren't easy but I can look back and thank God for those times.  It was in those times that God got ahold of me.  He grew in me a heart of love and compassion for all people.  He held me and loved me when the world seemed to be falling apart.  He showed me how to love those that aren't easy to love.
I also learned a lot about myself and the broken parts that God wanted to mend.  I was challenged by God to look at myself and see where I wasn't living rightly for Him.  I can't even begin to tell you what God did in my heart and the ways that he grew me during those times.  I wouldn't trade it, I can tell you that for sure.  It's easy to look back and see how people have hurt us or how life hasn't seemed fair in some ways.  It's not so easy to look at yourself and examine how you have possibly hurt someone or how you haven't acted as a friend in some way.  I am thankful that God loves us in our imperfections and that He has encouraged me to do the same for those in my life.
 My marriage ended in divorce which I never would have imagined.  I know that was not God's plan.  I am thankful though for the years Kenneth and I had together and for the kids we share.  I am not bitter or angry over the past.  Kenneth will always be a friend to me.  I am thankful for the time I had with my kids and with God while we worked through this new phase of life.  I am thankful for all the people that stood by me, loved me, lifted me up, held me together, and prayed for me.
  As my heart became fully God's He blessed me with a new relationship and friendship in Brian.  I am thankful that God brought me an amazing man to share this next chapter of life with.  He is a wonderful dad and the best friend a girl could ask for.  Our life is rich and full.  This isn't because of anything we have done to deserve it.  It is God's mercy in our life.  Life is what you make it.  You can be thankful for the good times and the bad in your life or you can look at life and dwell on the negative.  This only leads to heartache and depression.  When we see things through God's lens we can be thankful for our story whatever it looks like.
 I am thankful that I have an amazing family.  Yes it looks crazy on paper (A dad in California with a wife and two siblings that are the same age as my kiddos, a dad here that raised me along with three siblings that are my best friends.  My mom and dad divorced and my dad remarried two years ago and now I have Pam and her two sons in my life and I love them.  My mom is dating Kevin and has been for about 7 years and he has become part of the family.  I divorced and remarried in the same year.  I now have six kids and a new husband.  Kenneth is dating a great girl named Angela and we all work to raise our kids together. 
It all looks crazy on paper but its a beautiful kind of crazy.  It's about brokenness and healing.  Love and thankfulness.  Beauty from ashes.  Gladness from mourning.  Thankfulness in the midst of a storm.  It's about forgiveness and forging ahead.  Thank you God for your love and faithfulness.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!  Thank you to my friends and family.  I am thankful for all of you!!!  I love you soooo much.  I could go on and on about all that I am thankful for.  I think I could write page upon page.  In the end I just want everyone to know that my heart overflows with Thanksgiving for this beautiful broken life that I have been privileged to live out.  I love you!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dear Leo, Happy Birthday!!!

It has been a tradition of mine to write my kids a letter each year on their birthday.  This year is going to be tons of fun b/c I now have six letters to write :)  So here is my first letter to little Leo Wheeler :)

Dear Leo,  Today you are turning three.  You came into my life only 9 months ago and my life will never be the same.  You have the most beautiful green eyes, a head a full of thick brown hair, and little dimples that can melt my heart with one sweet smile.  You speak in full sentences, can count to 10, and you have no trouble keeping up with the big kids.  Your dad and I laugh b/c your favorite phrase is "I'm hungry" or "I am still hungry".  This is typically said by you after every meal - ha ha!!  One of our favorite phrases was said by you while we were in Kentucky visiting MeMe and Dah.  You looked at your daddy and said "Can I have you?"  You wanted your daddy to pick you up and hold you.  Daddy stole your line the day he asked me to marry him.  In front of the entire church your daddy got on one knee and looked me in the eyes and said "Can I have you forever?" 
You weigh the same amount as your brother Hudson and wear one shoe size bigger than him (he is not happy about that - lol).  It melts my heart each night when you ask me for hugs and kisses.  You will not go to sleep unless you have hugged me and you have planted a big wet kiss on me :)  If you are hurt you have to have kisses to make it better.  Last week daddy had to kiss your toe and when you hurt your bottom you insisted that I kiss it :)
 You love to pray and each night at dinner you are the first to volunteer to say prayer and same goes for bedtime.  Your prayers typically involve thanking God for food, cups, plates, forks, also thank God for me and daddy and all of your brothers and your sister Hannah.  You already love Jesus and for that we are so thankful.  One of the first things I remember about you is your love of singing worship songs.  The first time we were in the car together you sang the songs on the radio loud and proud :)  You were only two but you could sing with the rest of the kids no problem, in fact I remember you telling the other kids to be quiet b/c you wanted to be the only one to sing - I just laughed. 
You have just started potty training and I think you will be pull-up free very soon.  A few months ago the other kids were talking about you being in diapers and you told them you were potty trained.  When they asked you why you were still in diapers if you were potty trained you replied "I have underwear but I like diapers better".  You always have something witty to say.  Once you found a flashlight that wasn't working and brought it to your dad.  Daddy said it was broken and you said "It's not broken it just needs batteries".  We can't pull anything past you. 
You are such a sweet little boy.  I will always thank God for bringing you into my life.  I know God has great plans for your life.  You have started calling me mommy while you are with us and it just makes my day.  I love you to the moon and back my little Leo :)  Happy birthday!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Part four of our love story - The kiss (Woot Woot)

As time passed I "just knew" that I was meant to be with this amazing man.  God confirmed this in every way possible.  Through friends, family, our pastor, and my spirit.  Brian and I were crazy about each other and completely in love with the God of all creation.  In turn we were completely in love with each other as well.  Brian prayed and asked God to bring the kids hearts together the same way He had brought ours together.  It wasn't long after that that his son, Gabe, came to him and shared his heart with him.  With tears in his eyes he told Brian that he wanted his daddy to find someone to love him and to take care of him.  He didn't want him to grow old alone :(  One by one his boys came to him and revealed hearts that were ready to move forward and to have a "family" once again.  I praise God every time I think about the way he worked through the hearts of our kids.  Hannah and Hudson loved being around the boys and especially loved seeing Brian "love" me.  Hannah started asking questions about marriage.  In fact she was pretty blunt :)  She asked Brian "Will you please marry my mommy :)  Please, Please, with a cherry on top - lol"  Our families were starting to mesh and we were starting to talk about marriage.  Brian thought it would be cool if we had our first kiss on our wedding day - Ha ha ha ha :)  Sorry just had to laugh at that one.  It was a good thought, but lets face it, we were madly in love so that would have been a miracle :)  We tried that idea out for a while but one night it just happened.  I think my heart was about to leap out of my chest.  It was the most beautiful kiss ever.  FIREWORKS!!!  I don't think I will ever tire of kissing this man :)  My heart just loves him so much.  I love him more and more every day.  Ok, back to the story . . . . My family took a vacation to Michigan and Brian came up and surprised me with flowers :)  We started talking about when we wanted to get married.  We already knew without a doubt that we wanted to share the rest of our lives together so now we just needed to decide how long we would wait to make it happen.  We went back and forth on how long we should wait (not for us but for everyone else - lol).  After prayer and much discussion with our friends and family we decided on Fall.  The kids were beyond excited to find out that we would be a family very soon.  Hannah and Hudson couldn't wait to gain four brothers and Brians boys were excited at the thought of having a sister (although they may have changed their minds at this point - ha ha) and one more brother.  Over the next few months we planned our wedding, spent loads of time together, started cleaning out Brian's house, and started to prepare for life with six kids in a three bedroom house :)  We had our entire wedding planned before we ever got engaged.  So the story of our engagement begins . . . . Next post "He asked me to marry him"  stay tuned :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Date Night Reviews :) First up - "The Loft"

I will write part four of our love story very soon. . . until then I will be blogging some of our day to day life as well.  Brian and I love to try to new places for date nights.  We love exploring the city and we especially love to find unique, hole-in-the-wall type restaurants, or places that we have never tried before.  So we have decided to blog about our date nights and let you in on some of our favorite or not so favorite places so you can try them out too :)  Our first restaurant is located at the Trader's Point Creamery.  The creamery is an all organic dairy farm and is a location that I have used for photo shoots.  I have also taken my kiddos there in the summer for their farmers market, live music, and organic dinner's on Friday nights.  Anyway, I took Brian by the creamery to show him where it was and we noticed that they had a restaurant called "The Loft".  We decided to have dinner there and it was fabulous :)  Candles on the tables, fresh flowers, barn wood floors and a beautiful atmosphere.  They have a dairy bar as well - Awesome!!!  We ordered the butternut squash salad, ribeye from the farm (all grass fed and organic), augratin potatoes, and asparagus.  For dessert we had the rasberry/blueberry tart with ice cream (delicious).  We also enjoyed a bottle of organic Riesling wine.  We split our meal and it was plenty for both of us.  We give it two thumbs up :)  To learn about the creamery click here .  After dinner we came home and watched the movie "Prince of Persia".  We really enjoyed the movie and give it a two thumbs up as well.  So what are you waiting for . . . .go have dinner at "The Loft" and then come home and watch "Price of Persia".  Date nights are so much fun.  They allow you to look each other in the eyes and talk about all the reasons you love each other.  You will laugh at each other, love on each other, and snuggle up to one another as you watch a movie together :)  Have fun!!  We love you!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Part 3 "Love of a lifetime"

Sorry for the pause in our fairytale :)  We have been busy getting married and enjoying our honeymoon.  So to pick up where I left off . . . . . Brian and I became best friends.  We were cautious in our friendship b/c we wanted to make sure that our hearts were in line with God's will for our lives.  I spent a lot of time on my knees thanking God for this new friendship but more importantly asking God to show me where this friendship was headed.  I would have been blessed to be Brian's friend for life (but I am so glad the story didn't end that way - wink ;)  There is a day in time that will be etched in my heart and Brian's for a long time.  I remember that we decided to go to the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple to ride bikes one afternoon.  We rode bikes all afternoon.  We even rode way out of our way just to have ice-cream at Baskin Robbins.  He asked me what my favorite ice-cream was and I said "mint chocolate chip or Reese's cup"  Of course that was his favorite as well (it was meant to be - lol).  After having ice-cream we rode back to the car and even rode our bikes through a sprinkler.  I loved this b/c I was smiling the entire time and my heart was full of joy.  When we got back to the car, Brian got his guitar out and we went under a shelter house and sang worship songs together.  We talked about our love for God and His amazing love for His people.  I noticed some kids hanging out by a bridge nearby.  I asked Brian if he wanted to head down to the bridge and check it out.  We sat near the bridge and just observed.  Not long after sitting down the kids started to ask us who we were and why we were hanging with them :)  I wasn't sure to be honest.  Just a feeling in my spirit that these kids needed love.  As the walls came down we found out that these kiddos were homeless and many of them alone in this world.  We started building relationships with them and bringing them dinner each week.  As the weeks passed we fell in love with these kids.  We listened to their stories and felt a deep desire to be involved in their lives.  The kids have amazing hearts, incredible talent, and express love in a way that many Christians don't even know how to do.  Several of them have become good friends of ours and even attended our wedding.  Back to the story . . . . Our hearts seemed to be in line with each other and we started to feel like God was doing something new in our lives and that maybe He had a plan for us that we couldn't see at the time.  We started asking our most trusted friends what they thought about our friendship and also asked them to pray for us.  At the same time we also continued to pray for guidance from our creator.  The first couple that knew of our strong friendship was Marc and Debbie Woernle.  We asked them if we could have dinner with them and get their guidance on some things.  We explained our hearts to them and expressed our desire to do the right thing for our kids and for ourselves.  I remember that Debbie had tears in her eyes as we told her of our friendship and our desire to seek Gods will in all of this.  She also said that she wanted to scoop us up and bring us together -ha ha.  She and Marc added that they wouldn't scoop us together just yet but that they would commit to praying for our relationship and would keep us accountable to live for God along the way.  As we started to seek counsel from the rest of our friends and even our families we got an overwhelming response of love, tears, and joy from those that knew us best.  For many it was an answered prayer from the depths of their hearts.  Several people that knew us both (before we knew each other) had said that they felt in their hearts that at some point God would bring the two of us together.  This was a miracle in itself . . .the fact that several people knew that Brian and I had never met, didn't go to the same church, and had no way of meeting each other (save divine intervention) had thoughts and even revelations of us coming together at some point in life.  Wow!!!  I am again reminded of how much I love God and how magnificent He is!!!  I will end there for now.  The next post will be good - it is the beginning of our love story - and involves a kiss :) Woot Woot!!!!  Stay tuned - Love ya!!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Part two "Girl meets boy" :)

So I started attending the bible study that Brian was teaching.  He challenged my thinking, my love for others, and most importantly my relationship with God.  One week after our study I stayed after to talk to him.  His kiddos had attended Kingsway Christian the year before and b/c of his circumstances they had transfered out of private school and into public school.  I was in the same boat with my daughter Hannah.  She would be transfering to public school in the Fall (to the same school his kids attended) so I wanted to find out how he transitioned them and how the change in schools was for him and his boys.  We ended up talking for almost an hour.  We talked mostly about God and how He had challenged us, changed us, and grown us in ways we never imagined.  Our stories were very similar and the cool part is that we were chosing to handle lifes setbacks and dissapointments the same way - God's way :)  We started encouraging each other with scripture, books, and stories of how God was using us daily in the lives of others as we surrendered our lives to our Creator.  I remember that Brian gave me a copy of the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  I read it in three days (which is a miracle for me - lol) and my heart just became more excited about loving God and loving others.  Brian and I knew several other people that had gone through similar situations so we decided to start a worship night.  The night was a time to pray, share a meal, and sing worship songs.  All of this was to encourage each other and spur each other on in our walk.  I know that I felt my soul being drawn to Brians very early on.  Not in a romantic way but in a spiritual way.  I loved his heart for God and for others.  I also noticed that he was an amazing dad.  I could write an entire post about how much I adore him as a dad but that will have to be a later post :)  As the weeks and months went by we continued to encourage one another through scripture, texting, and phone calls.  I remember our first time hanging out.  Brian called and asked if me and my kids had bikes and then invited us to Hummel park to ride bikes.  I loaded our bikes up only to find out when we got to the park that they were all flat - lol :)  We borrowed a pump from an older couple at the park.  I remember them asking "Are these all your kids!!!"  We laughed and said "Four are his and two are hers".  We had a great time at the park.  The kids got along great.  We ended up wading in the creek and teaching the kids how to skip rocks.  Our interaction was short (about an hour) but it was the start of an amazing friendship.  Stay tuned for part three of "The love of a lifetime!!" ..... 

Monday, September 20, 2010

One chapter ends and a new one begins :)

"Finding the Love of a Lifetime"  Part 1 . . .
From Ashes to Beauty . . . .Amen and Amen!!  This is the first post of many to come.  My heart is full, my life rich, and my soul overjoyed.  Many of you have followed my story in the past and will continue to follow my story as a new chapter begins.  I don't want to dwell on the past but I do want to say that God has used everything in my life (good and bad) to make me into the person I am today.  I have learned to love unconditionally, to find good in everyone, and to keep going even when you feel like giving up.  So here is how I met and fell in love with the most amazing man I have ever known (and a few cool and interesting encounters along the way).  Did I mention that God is the most amazing match maker that ever existed?  I first laid eyes on Brian, my soon to be husband, at Fazoli's over a year ago.  This is one of the interesting encounters . . . I was there with my two kiddos and he was there with his four boys.  Hannah started to stare at his boys and count them - lol :)  I was a little embarrassed so I said to Brian "She loves big families, she is just counting your kids"  We had a brief exchange but at that point he was a complete stranger and I never thought I would run into him again.  Fast forward about six months (give or take a few) . . . . My heart was completely wrapped up in my love for Jesus.  I was feeling alive again, completely in love with my Lord and Savior, happy with life, and wanting to live in a way that pointed others to my first love (Jesus).  I was perfectly content with my two beautiful kids.  I never dreamed in a million years that I was about to experience the love of a lifetime :)  I wanted to join a bible study.  I expressed this to several people at my small church (which I love!!).  We are a start up church and still very small so we don't have Sunday morning bible studies etc..for adults.  I felt the desire to get deeper in the word with other people who have been through struggle and have come to know God in a deeper and more intimate way.  My friend, Leslie, approached me one day to tell me about a bible study that was starting at Kingsway (a church down the road).  I had no idea what the study was about or what I was in for (wink).  I decided to try it out and found out that morning that the bible study was going to be centered on a book by Beth Moore "Out of the pit" (I love her so I knew it would be good).  I walked in and Brian was teaching the class.  The rest of the story is an amazing story of God's love for us and His power to change hearts and lives through our obedience to Him.  Stay tuned for part two of "Finding the love of a lifetime" . . . . . . .I want to scream from the rooftops b/c I am sooo crazy in love with Brian, his four boys, my two sweeties, and most importantly the God of all creation!!!