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!!!!