Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our First Christmas :)

Last year on Christmas Eve I looked up at the mantel and stared at the three stockings hung on the chimney with care.  I remember feeling sad that there was one less stocking there.  It had been a tough year on all of us.  I thanked God for my two precious children sleeping in their beds.  I prayed that this year would be a new start and a time of refreshing for all of us.
This year on Christmas Eve I again looked up at the mantel and was filled with joy as I stared at eight stockings crammed on the chimney with care :)  I reflected on all that God had done in our lives in a year's time and how He had grown our family from three to eight.  I couldn't be happier.  I cried as I reflected on God's amazing love for me, Brian, and our kids.

Christmas morning was filled with noise, laughter, flying wrapping paper, and lots of love!!  We told the kids they could come out at 8am so at 7:59 we heard them counting down.  30,29,28,27,26......3,2,1 and then screams of delight as they ran from their bedrooms to the living room.  My entire family came over to help us celebrate our first Christmas together.
My dad and Pam got the kids games, clothes, and other goodies.  My mom got the kids colts gear, books, and stuffed animals.  My siblings went together to buy the kids tons of games (aqua doodle, break the ice, moon sand, pixie sticks, etc...).  My parents also got us a family membership to the aquatic center.  We had to get two memberships for a family of eight!!  We are already getting tons of use out it.  The kids love it!!!  We got all the kids a pillow pet, a game, and other fun stuff.  It was a great Christmas.
Brian got me a brand new camera (total surprise) and a new printer for labeling cd's and dvd's.  I was more than excited as I have been wanting a new camera for some time now.  I bought him shoes, a fun hat, clothes, and other fun surprises.

It was great to see my little nephew, Elias, and let the kids get to know their cousin.  They live in D.C. so we don't get to see them very much.  Elias loved his new Uncle "B". 
Hudson was the first to notice that Santa had eaten his cookies and milk :)  Of course Santa left half a glass of milk on the mantel that ended up on the floor later in the morning - lol.  Christmas is still a magical time in their eyes.

We talked about Jesus, read the story of His birth, and prayed for all the kids in the world that wouldn't experience the kind of Christmas we would.  This will be a Christmas I will never forget. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

God of second chances (by Brian)

He is the God of second chances; of redemption.  He is faithful.  “I once was lost but now I’m found and now my lifesong sings.  I once was blind but now I see and now my lifesong sings.  I once was dead but now I live.  Now my life to you I give. Hallelujah!”  Song lyrics by Casting Crowns
We are lost without Him. If we only give God the opportunity, with our lives...everything, He is all that He claims to be.  Loree has made such a wonderful account of our God story.  Even then, we only scratch the surface on just how good God is and all of His mysterious ways.  
Over a year ago a new thought unexpectedly overtook my heart.  A desire growing in me to have two more kids.  I was a single dad with four boys...why on earth would I have such a notion burning in me?  I shared this feeling will many (who thought I had lost my mind!!!) then tucked it away in my heart and thought of it no more.  
A couple months before the wedding the thought resurfaced in my mind as if God wanted to remind me who had been at work in our hearts from the beginning...preparing the way.  I would soon be blessed with two beautiful children to love as my own.  
“A page is turned in this life, He’s making her his wife and there is no secret to the source of this much life.  When the grace that falls like rain is washing them again. Just a chance to somehow rise above this land.
Where the God of second chance will pick them up and he’ll let them dance.  Through a world that is not kind and all this time, they’re sharing with the one that holds them up when they come undone.  Beneath the storm, beneath the sun and once again, here you stand.  Your day has come.” A Page is Turned by Bebo Norman
It's what He does isn't it?  Holds us up when we fall apart.  Picks us up and sets us on our feet.  Then we dance.  Grace, God's grace.

I would not ever be able to fully describe just how miraculously God worked through our lives to bring us to where we are today.  Some things I will just cherish in my heart. His sooooo good.  I don’t feel like I deserve second chances, but He gives them anyway. 
He was down right showing off by bringing Loree to me.  (He’s God after all and that’s just fine with me!)  She is beyond an exceptional woman.  Her character in Christ makes it easier for me to be the husband and leader God calls me to be.  She has such a fun easygoing heart with the same love of dancing as myself which includes dance movies :)  (Step Up 3 was pretty rockin’ for us!)
I don’t know your story.  I’m sure it has/had its own set of difficulties and heartache, but there is one thing we have in common.  Our God, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Comforter, our God of second chances.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7  
Let go and let God.
Jesus is very fond of you and so am I,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our wedding day - My heart was pounding with excitement!!

We got married on October 16th at 4:30pm.  I spent the night at my mom's house with my two sisters.  We woke up the next morning and my mom treated us to manicures and pedicures at a little place here in Avon.

The weather was gorgeous!!  Sunny, warm and beautiful, and autumn leaves everywhere.  I couldn't believe the day was finally here.  I was so excited to marry my best friend.

My sister-in-law was kind enough to come to my mom's house to do all of our hair (she did an awesome job!!!).  She will be doing our hair again for my sister, Anna's wedding this March :) 

Brian and I had to be at the barn early for photos.  My mom and sister's helped me get ready and our photographer came to take pictures.  I then rode to the barn with our photographer and hid behind the barn so that Brian couldn't see me until just the right time :)  He met me behind the barn and that is when we saw each other for the first time that day.  He looked so handsome.  We had fun taking pictures before the wedding. 

The funniest thing that happened that day took place right before our wedding was to start.  The field behind the barn was being plowed!!!  We looked over to see a huge combine heading for the field which was very loud and all you could see was corn flying everywhere - lol.  We found the driver and asked if they could wait until after the wedding to plow the rest.  He happily agreed.  We had to get a picture on the combine after the wedding :)

Brian stayed at my house the night before the wedding along with his family and all of the kids.  His family had a big job getting six kids showered and ready for the wedding!!  They were a huge blessing.  The kids looked great and they were so excited that the wedding day was finally here.  They were so excited to be a family, to be brothers and sisters, and to live together under one roof.  We spent time as a family before the ceremony started.  We got pictures being silly, playing in the leaves, and walking to the barn hand in hand.

The ceremony was beautiful.  The barn looked amazing.  Our friends and family were all gathered in one room to celebrate this awesome blessing in our lives.  It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and love.  The kids memorized Corinthians 13 and recited it during the wedding.  I was so proud of them.  Brian played a song for me on the piano and sang to me.  He had kept this a secret.  I had to fight back the tears.  The song was perfect "When I say I do" by Matthew West.  At the end of the ceremony the worship team played a few songs and everyone stood up and sang along.  It was beautiful.  Gabe, our eight year old, had his eyes closed and hands lifted as he sang to God and thanked Him for restoring our families.  Every one of the kids sang their hearts out.  I can't begin to tell you how that made my heart feel.  I had a flood of thoughts and emotions come over me.  I was thanking God for bringing this amazing man of faith into my life, praising him for giving me a family again, and thinking of these beautiful kids that I would now have the privilege to raise.  My heart could have leaped out of my chest with excitement.

The rest of the night we were blessed to dance, sing, take communion, and share a meal with our closest friends and family.  It was perfect in every way.  Our first dance was to "A page is turned" by Bebo Norman.  The kids played hard and danced even harder :)  MeMe said they crashed hard that night - lol.  At the end of the evening we kissed each of our kiddos goodbye and thanked our families for all of their hard work to make this day a success.  We then headed downtown for our first night as husband and wife.  There will be no details on that one "wink".  It all felt like a dream.  An answered prayer.  God is so good!!!  Our love story will continue with our amazing honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas.