Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Story (Part 6)

On September 10, 2002, Boss and I went on our very first date. For the life of me, I cannot remember what either of us wore (odd, seeing as I remember so many other random details from this time in our lives). I do remember though, that my roommate curled my hair for me and that I was incredibly nervous and rashy. Spending time with Boss made me want to throw up. In a good way. But I was also excited and in love. For some reason that I cannot explain, I just knew that I was about to go on a date with the one that God had been preparing just for me. And that is an incredible feeling.

Boss was the perfect gentleman on our date. Who am I kidding? Even now, over eight years later, he still remains a gentleman. He picked me up right on time, he opened the car door for me every time I got in or out, and on the passenger seat of his car he had placed a single long stemmed yellow rose. He took me to Johnny Carrino's for dinner and we both ordered fettuccine alfredo. Neither of us ate more than a few bites :).

After dinner we stopped at the same park that we had met at several weeks before where he had shared his heart with me. But this time it was different. We were together. Beginning our lives together, and we both knew it. We both felt it. He grabbed my hand as we started walking, and my heart began to beat a little bit faster. His hand was strong and warm, and I did not want him to let go. I remember thinking that night that I wanted to hold his hand for the rest of my life.

After our walk through the park we headed back to my house and watched The Rookie. Well, the movie was on, but I didn't really watch it:). My eyes were fixed on the screen throughout the entire film, but I was not watching it. I was too busy wondering about what Boss was thinking. Did he like me as much as I liked him? Was my hand sweating too much as he held it in his? Was he bored? Was he going to kiss me for the first time tonight? Did my breath stink? These thoughts pounded my brain and even though I knew that he would be leaving once the movie ended, I was so glad when it was finally over! My brain could not take much more thinking. At the end of our date I walked Boss to the door, and he informed me that he was going to kiss me goodnight. He did. And it was wonderful. And then I went to the bathroom and threw up, because nothing says love like vomit :).

For the entire next month, Boss and I hung out together every single moment that he was not working. It is safe to say that my grades seriously began to suffer that semester once Boss entered my life. I went from studying sociology, to studying him. He was a much more fascinating subject and I wanted to learn everything that I could about him. I wanted to pass every single test. He made my heart happy and being with him was the only place that I wanted to be. We would go out to eat, walk at our park, hang out with our friends, take drives through the country, eat frozen custard, and fall more in love with each passing day. Boss often brought me gifts when he would pick me up for our dates, just little things to let me know that he had been thinking of me throughout his day, and he would flood my inbox with emails. I remember thinking... AGH! I HAVE A BOYFRIEND! ONE I CAN CALL ANYTIME THAT I WANT! ONE THAT WANTS TO BE WITH ME AND SAYS SO! I don't believe that my face was ever without a smile during our first month together.

Sometime towards the end of the month, I took Boss down to meet my family. My Aunt Connie was having a birthday party for the September birthdays at her house and Boss offered to drive me there and go with me. We got lost on the hour drive to her home, but instead of being irritated with me for not writing down the directions like he had suggested :), he simply said he did not care how long it took us to get there as long as we were together (I might still like to remind him of this when we get lost or things take longer than we anticipated in our day to day life now).Needless to say, my family loved Boss, just like I knew they would. What's not to love?

Things were sailing along in our world and everything was going great. I couldn't remember ever feeling happier in my life. And then, after our one month anniversary, he told me that he wanted me to fly to Ohio with him to meet his family.

Oh sure, I thought. He had met my family. It only made sense that I meet his in the coming months.

So, when do you want to go to Ohio, I asked him. In January? After the holidays? That sounded like a reasonable time frame to me.

But his answer was different than I had expected. He looked me in the eye and asked, Are you free next week? I am pretty sure that I choked on my spit. This, my friends, was getting serious.

To Be Continued.

P.S. Remember that little detail about Boss moving to Austin at the end of September? Yeah, it never happened :). And that had nothing to do with him choosing to stay for me. The day he was to fax over his new lease agreement, he got a call from Corporate saying that the transfer was not going to happen and that at this time he was to stay put. A mere coincidence? I think not :).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Story (Part 5)

** For parts 1 through 4, see posts below.**

During the last several days of August, and into the first days of September, Boss and I hung out together as much as we possibly could. If there was a group activity, we were there. We went out with our friends to several restaurants, we went bowling, and we went to an Aggie football game. I even went to his store to buy tennis shoes from him. You know, because I needed new tennis shoes. Seriously. I did. We also talked on the phone. Every single night. My feelings were growing for Boss with each passing day. Sometimes it felt as if my heart would burst from emotion. But still, we waited. Praying all the while that God was working things out "behind the scenes". I never should have doubted that he was, in a way that was even better than I ever could have imagined.

September 9th, 2002 was a Wednesday. I saw Boss at church services that night, and as he walked me out to my car after service had ended he said that he had a gift for me. He grabbed my present out of his car, and told me to close my eyes and hold out my hands. When I opened them, he had placed a beautiful silver blue and cream journal in them. I opened the journal up to the first page, and on it he had written me a sweet note. He said that he noticed that I liked to write and take notes, and that he hoped he would get the privilege of watching me take notes for a very long time. He said that I encouraged him, and that he loved being around me. His words touched my heart. I was not used to receiving affection so openly from a man. All I had ever really experienced before Boss was games. That journal, and the words that he had written inside, was the most thoughtful gift that I had ever received. I timidly looked up at him and told him I was worried that we would never get to be together like we wanted to be together. That he was never going to be free to move on with his life.

And then he said the most beautiful words that my ears had been aching to hear. He asked me if I wanted to go on a date with him the very next night.

What? A date? I thought we agreed that we would not date until the divorce was final! What did he mean, did I want to go on a date? Did he mean a date, date? These thoughts all came rushing out of my mouth at once. Finally, he told me to be quiet so that he could answer my questions :).He informed me that he had finally gotten a court date to finalize his divorce for the very next morning. After waiting for nine months, he had finally gotten his court date for September 10th, and he wanted to take me out that night to celebrate. In case you were wondering, I said yes. :)

Later that night I was scanning through the journal that he had given me, rereading his words, and thinking about our future together. I was excited to see it unfold, to see it come alive, much like the words that I would soon pen to the page. Our story was finally beginning. And then my eye caught a glimpse of some words about halfway through the journal, as I was thumbing through the pages. I found the page that I had seen, and on it Boss had written me another sweet message. The words read:

Hi Kendra...

I wonder what today is? It is September 9ht right now. Whatever today is, I hope that you had a good day. If not, I hope that coming across these words brought a smile to your face, which I might think is quite cute..... No matter when you are reading this, or how much time has passed, I hope to see you soon!

- Ben

And that was when I knew that I was in love. And that this was real. Boss was supposed to be moving away soon, but I no longer cared about the details. I knew that God would work it all out. And I knew that Boss really did care about me. After all, he had no way of knowing when I would have read those words in the middle of the journal. If I had written one page every single day, and not skipped ahead, it would have taken me months to reach the middle pages. And yet he still wrote that he hoped to see me soon. That meant that he hoped he was still part of my life in the months to come. And that felt good. I went to sleep that night a happy girl. Happy, and in love, thanking God for bringing Boss my way. He was more than I ever could have dreamed of.

To Be Continued.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

These Boots Jammies Were Made For Walkin'

On February 16th, Jack Ryan took his first steps. It was by accident, I really do believe. You see, he was in quite a hurry to get to the princess ball with his sisters. They had fancied up the kitchen, streamers and scarves were tied everywhere, there was music jammin' (Camp Rock 2), and, this was the kicker, he heard there was going to be limbo at this ball. Jack loves limbo. Or, I'm sure he would love it if he knew what it was. Anyway, his sisters had even dressed him up in a fancy Cinderella ensemble. It coordinated very nicely with his blue footed jammies. So here's how it happened. Jack was standing next to the couch after getting dressed, and he was super excited, so he just took off! He made it two or three steps before he tripped over his skirt and fell. We all clapped and cheered and he cried and cried. But ever since then he has been taking a few independent steps each day. We knew that soon he would really take off, and we were waiting for the moment. That moment was tonight!

We were attending a church supper and were sitting in a circle with our friends. Once the floor was cleared of dishes, cups, and trash, Jack's Uncle Scotty put him on the floor to let him do his thang. He crawled over to Aunt Candy, and then she stood him up to get him to walk back to Scott. AND HE DID! He walked all the way across the circle without falling. When he would begin to wobble, he would steady himself, and then keep going. It was precious, precious, precious. (And his father would like for me to note that this time, he was not wearing a skirt). So it is official. We now have a walker! We love you Jack Ryan! You are growing up way too fast!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eleven Month Update

Our little boy is now eleven months old. Hard to believe that we will be celebrating his first birthday in just one month. I am not quite sure where the time has gone. But one thing is for certain, Jack Ryan is growing up right before our eyes. And he is SUCH a JOY! Every day, he makes me smile. Every single day. His eyes sparkle, his cheeks glow, and his smile is contagious. It is hard not to be happy when he is around. We are so blessed that he is our son.

At eleven months old, Jack is sporting six teeth (two on top and four on bottom). His hair is really starting to come in, and the bald spot on the back of his head is almost entirely covered now. His hair is light golden brown, much like his big sister Emma, and it has the same fine, wispy texture. Jack still loves to eat, and likes anything that I put in front of him. We are working on eating more small meals, and less bottles. Daddy is counting the days until we kiss formula goodbye. Can you say pay raise? :) The only two words that he says are uh oh and Dada. We are working on saying Mama, but no such luck. What can I say? I guess he is saving the best for last.

At his last Dr.'s appointment (for his third double ear infection in the last few months), Jack weighed in at 21 pounds even, and I do believe that he is finally starting to trim down. It will be a sad, sad day when he loses the last of his baby chub. His chub is just so kissable all over. There is nothing better than his squishy, chubby baby thighs. Sleep continues to be decent. He always goes to sleep at eight and wakes us up with smiles at five. He takes two naps a day. He continues to crawl everywhere and cruise around the furniture. I know he will be walking any day now. And that seems impossible. My baby is growing up too quickly.

Jack is our sweet, sweet baby boy. He makes us so happy. Our hearts are filled with joy. Thank you, God, for the gift of our son.

Our Story (Part 4)

**For previous entry's about our love story, see below.**

I already shared with you that by the middle of August, after really only getting to know him for about two weeks, I was smitten with the man whom I now lovingly call Boss. (Yes, I even call him that in real life. It's our thang.) One Sunday night after service, I began talking to the preacher's wife about my growing feelings (she really was the cutest little lady that you ever did see, and she still is). She said it was no surprise to her, because she could see that I was glowing. After watching me struggle in a relationship for so long that was not working, she said she was glad to see me so happy. And then she said that she had good news :). Apparently that morning she and her husband had been talking with Boss and he had shared with her that he was interested in me! And he wanted to know what they thought about him one day pursuing me. Ahh! On the same day that I professed my feelings about Boss to someone else, he confessed his own growing feelings to the exact same person. To say that I squealed with delight would be an understatement. I was ecstatic! The preacher's wife and I squealed for several minutes (I might have even jumped up and down), before regaining composure and acting like the sophisticated ladies that we were.

The next night I went to a back to school cook out at a young couples house from church. The entire congregation was invited. I hoped that Boss was going to be there, but I had no way of knowing if he was working that night or not. Of course I bought a new shirt, just in case he showed, and it was a good thing that I did. (My poor daddy funded many new shirts during this season of my life.) Shortly after I arrived, Boss walked in. It was a fun night! Boss flirted with me (subtly, of course), and I giggled and rashed like a school girl. I was nothing if not smooth. If he did not love me before, he was sure to love me now. As the evening was coming to an end, "somehow" Boss and I wound up walking out to our cars at the exact same time, and surprisingly (or not surprising at all) no one else was out there. I think we had been set up :). He walked me to my car door and we awkwardly stood there, smiling at each other for several seconds (or was it minutes? With him, I found myself losing track of time), before he stumbled all over his words and asked me if maybe could he get my phone number? Of course I said yes, and he punched it into his cell phone before we both hurriedly got into our cars and drove our separate ways. Turns out, smooth we were not. But happy, we were. I had no idea when he was going to call, but I could not wait!

I did not have to wait long. The next afternoon my phone rang right as I was coming in the door from class. I grabbed it, breathless, and it was him. My knees went week. He said that he was calling to ask me to meet him at a park that was close to my house. I asked him when he wanted to meet. He said, how about in fifteen minutes? Wow! A man who did not play games! He knew what he wanted and he went for it. I liked that. I negotiated for thirty minutes (so I could change into a new shirt and brush my teeth), and then I headed to the park. He was already waiting there for me when I arrived.We both exited our cars and began to walk. We walked for several minutes before he said anything to me at all. But it was okay, because I liked his company. It did not feel like work to be with him. It was comfortable. Even though I was nervous and felt like I was going to throw up. In a good way.

Finally, he started talking, and he did not beat around the bush. He told me that he liked me, that he was interested in starting a relationship with me, but that he had to be very honest with me about something up front. I was not prepared for what he would share next. He told me that he was actually still married, but that he was in the final process of completing his divorce. Huh? Come again? Never in a million years was that what I thought he was going to say! My first question to him, does the preacher's wife know?? I knew there was no way that she would have tried to set me up with a married man if she had known! I was stunned when he told me that yes, she knew. Of course I tried to keep my cool while he was talking, but my mind was reeling, so I just listened.

He told me that they had married young. He was only twenty and she eighteen. He told me that she had not been a Christian when they had gotten married, and that he had been advised not to marry her, but that he had done it anyway. He said that they had been happy for the first two years. She had become a Christian, and they had been happy. But then she started staying out later, or not coming home at all. And he soon found out that she was cheating on him. That she was drinking and using drugs. That she had not only abandoned her new love of Christ, but that she had also abandoned him and their marriage vows. His heart was broken. Since college was coming to a close for him, he decided to accept a job offer in Arizona, and she agreed to come along. He wanted to leave everything behind and start over in their marriage. He was hopeful, he said. But it was not meant to be. Life in Arizona was no different with her. She was still cheating. Still doing drugs. It was a new crowd, but she was still acting like the person she had become back in Ohio. He was crushed.

Soon Boss accepted a new job with Champs Sports. I will forever be grateful that he made that decision, because that is how he landed himself in College Station, Texas, of all places. He took over the store there. His wife followed him, mainly because she had no money without him, but it was clear that their marriage was over. And he began the process of starting the divorce. He knew that God hated divorce, and he felt ashamed, but he also knew that it was in fact a scriptural divorce, and he hoped that he would one day get a second chance at having a godly marriage.He said he had never felt more alone in his life. This was the dark season that he had been going through. This was what he had been wrestling with God about. Hers was the picture that he had used to carry in his Bible. It all made sense to me now, and my heart broke for him. I instantly knew that I wanted to be the one that would make him smile again. I wanted to be the one that made him take a second chance on love.

I thanked him for being brave enough to share his story with me. He asked me if I was still interested, and told me that he understood if I wasn't. I told him I was. But we both agreed that we would not take things any further until his divorce was finalized, and we had no idea how long that would take. Sometimes those things drug on forever, he said. But we agreed to wait, because even though his marriage had been over for a year, and even though they had not lived together for longer, he was still technically married. So he still belonged to someone else. We did go to dinner together that night, the last thing that we agreed we would do alone, before he was free to date once again. Any other time that we spent together would be in a group setting. When I left the restaurant that night my heart was a bit heavy. I knew in my heart that he was the one for me. My Mr. Right, the one that I had been waiting for, and now I was going to have to wait even longer.

To Be Continued.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day - Family Style

Boss is my forever Valentine. He is the only one that I have ever had, and that makes my heart happy. While I dated other guys during high school and college, I was never seeing anyone on Valentines day. I celebrated my very first Valentines day with Boss, when we were newly engaged. It was wonderful. Everything that you think a Valentines date should be. I bought and wore a sparkly red and black dress, he wore a shirt and tie. He sent me roses and took me out to a fancy dinner. And then he suffered through a chick flick, while I cried sappy, happy tears. Because I have always loved love.

Our second Valentines was pretty romantic, too. I was newly pregnant with Emma and he had to work that day, but it did not stop us from celebrating our love. Boss made me a CD of all of my favorite love songs, and when he arrived home from the store that night, tired and hungry, I had dinner waiting for him complete with soft music and lit candles. The next day we left for a week long cruise.

Those were the only two Valentines that we celebrated with just he and I. We started having children, our love grew by leaps and bounds with each one, and now we celebrate the day family style. Sometimes I miss those days of getting dressed up and going out, but I know they will come back again in several years, and then I will miss these days. Because these days are beautiful, too.

Today I was woken up with kisses from all four of my favorite people. At lunchtime, Boss brought me home a dozen yellow roses (always yellow, because he says I am his yellow rose from Texas), and he brought the girls home chocolates and cards. All three of us pretty much think he hung the moon. And then tonight we had a special family dinner. I decorated the table, made place cards, and left a little surprise on every ones chair. We feasted on spaghetti, garlic bread, and tossed salad. We ate by candlelight. Dessert was homemade strawberry cake with icing made from scratch, or iced chocolate brownies. And then the big girls and I watched Fireproof. And we all cried. Because we are silly girls. To complete my day, I am about to head up the stairs, move tiny sleeping bodies into their own beds, feed my growing baby one last bottle, and then crawl into the arms of my forever Valentine. It has been a beautiful day.

Our Story (Part 3)

*For the first two entry's of our story, see posts below*

Eventually that second semester of my sophomore year of college came to an end, and soon it was summer of 2002. I was supposed to be taking off on a mission trip to Russia that summer, with my "friend" and a group of other college kids, to teach English at a camp for children. I had gone on this same trip the previous summer, and it was wonderful. I grew a lot in the Lord that summer, and the children of Russia held a special place in my heart. But I realized that it was not meant to be for me to head back there this particular summer. I had some personal things going on in my life during that time (another story for another day), and my parents and I decided that I would head to Arizona, instead.

That was a hard decision for me to make. For one, I did not like that I was backing out of a commitment I had made to the Russia trip. Two, I was headed to Arizona for what I thought at the time would be the worst summer of my life (I was oh, so very wrong). And last of all, my "friend" would still be going on the Russia trip. Without me. But somewhere deep in my soul, I knew that it was time to let go. I knew in a way, that by us going our separate ways that summer, that we were somehow telling each other goodbye. To be honest, it broke my heart, but I knew it was the right thing to do. We had been working far too hard, for far too long, at something that was not meant to be. For either of us. And I was losing myself in the process. So I bit the bullet, mustered up what little courage I had left, and we headed our separate ways.

That summer in Arizona ended up being the best summer of my life, pre-marriage years, of course. It was a time of healing for me. A time to rediscover who I was. I made wonderful girlfriends that lasted for a wonderful season in my life. I became bold and confident in who I was, and the plans that God had for me in my life. No matter what they were. I remember going hiking with a friend one sunny afternoon. All of a sudden we came upon a breathtaking view, and instantly my thoughts flew to Boss. At the time, I was not sure where thoughts of him had come from, but it seemed to fit the moment. My "friend" and I still talked occasionally on the phone that summer, but I could feel my heart beginning to heal. It was no longer painful to talk to him, but not be with him. I knew that I had officially moved on.

When July came to a close, on my 20th birthday to be exact, I bid my Arizona friends goodbye and boarded a plane to head back to Texas. I was excited about starting over. I spent one week with my family, and then I headed back to school, even though classes would not be starting for another month. I returned to College Station on a Sunday afternoon and headed up to church service that night. There were not many college kids back yet, and very few people filled the pews that night (we were in our own building by then), but as I looked around, my eyes landed on the back of a familiar head. A very nice, dark head. A head with a neck covered with lots of tiny freckles. Boss was back. And I was, too.

After service that night the few of us young people that were there went out to eat at Fudruckers. Boss came too, and I got to have a lengthy conversation with him for the very first time. He talked about his first love, Ohio State football, and he told me about growing up in a small Ohio town. He told me about where he went to college, and I was surprised to learn that someone as young as he was already had his Master's degree. He told me about his work as a Manager for Champs Sports. I thought everything he said was brilliant. It was a very good night.

For the next two weeks I lived for church services so that I would get to see Boss. He was a regular now, after several months of sporadic attendance, and I learned that he had been a regular all summer. Even while the majority of the young people were gone, he had continued to show up. That impressed me, and it was evident that he had worked out whatever he had been wrestling over with God. Another thing I noticed? The picture that he carried in his Bible of that girl was gone. It seemed he had finally moved on from that dark season of his life. Funny timing, because I had moved on from my dark season, as well.

By the middle of August, I was quite smitten. Even though I had learned that Boss was supposed to be transferring to a store in Austin within the next month, I could not help myself. There was just something about him. Besides the fact that he smelled delicious, he made me feel like no one else ever had. When I talked to him, he listened, and seemed genuinely interested. Where I was loud and sarcastic, he was quiet and sincere. We balanced each other nicely. I knew it was crazy to have fallen so hard, so fast, and sometimes I wondered if I had learned anything at all that summer. But there was one thing that I had in my new found love interest that I had never experienced before, and that was peace. I knew that no matter what happened, ,whether he moved or stayed, it was all going to work out just as it should. And I ultimately knew that whether he chose me, picked me over anyone else, or not, that I was going to be okay. And that felt good.

To Be continued.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our Story (Part 2)

*** For the first part of our story, see post below.***

The next morning I awoke still feeling quite sad. It was a brand new day, but my heart and my attitude did not feel brand new. I still felt sad, and tired, and lonely. The only plan I had ever made for my life was to be a wife and then one day a mother. Nothing else interested me. Nothing else mattered. I did not want a career. The scary part was that my dream had to involve a man picking me, choosing me over anyone else, and that was completely out of my control. I desperately wanted God's peace about the situation. I was just afraid that I would not like His final answer.

I seriously contemplated not attending worship services that morning. To be honest, I was kind of grumpy with God. I was not in the mood to plaster on a fake smile and pretend to be a carefree college girl. And besides, my "friend" was not going to be there, because he was still camping (little did I know, that was all part of God's plan). I stayed in bed for a few more minutes, wrestling with my heart about what I should do. In the end, I decided to get up and get going. I knew if I didn't show up I would have half the group of college kids from church pounding at my door after services to see why I was not there or if I needed something (they were all pretty great like that).

Since it was the Sunday before Valentines day, I remember that I dressed in a little black and red skirt (little in size, not length, because I was in fact little back then. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank my three children, Coke-a-Cola Classic, and those beautiful golden arches for making me the size person that I am today), a black top, and strappy black sandals. And then I headed out the door.

Once I got to the Hilton, my attitude did begin to lift a tiny bit. There was just something special about the people that gathered in that tiny little conference room, and as depressed as I was, I could not be anything but happy to be seeing all of those people soon. And besides, my mom's words from the night before were still ringing in my ears, you never know who will walk through that door. Since I was running a bit late (you know, because of the very important pity party I was having earlier in my bed) service had already started, so I slid quietly into a chair next to my friend Jeana. I began looking around the room at all of the faces gathered there. All of the usuals were accounted for. Some very dear people to me. And while I could not deny that I had been hoping that my mom would have been right, that we might have had some visitors that day, oddly I was at peace, and I began to focus on the words to the song that we were singing. And that's when I heard the doors to the little conference room open behind me.

I am pretty sure that the entire room of people turned around to see who was entering the room (again, we did not get many new faces and all of the usuals were accounted for), but I am probably the only one who remembers that particular day or the visitors we had. For that was the very first time that I laid eyes on Boss. And he took my breath away. Three men (yes, they were men not boys. I noticed that right away. I would later find out that Boss was five and a half years older than I was) walked into the conference room that Sunday morning, but I only had eyes for one. Good thing, too, because I would later notice that the other two men were sporting wedding rings :).

By this time the service had picked right back up, and Boss had slid into the chair directly in front of me. I noticed that he was wearing a plaid button down shirt, green cargo pants, and Doc Martins. And I noticed that he smelled good. And that he had a lot of tiny freckles covering the back of his neck. They were very nice freckles. And then I decided that I had better get my mind focused on the service once again, though I might have stolen another peek or two at his adorable freckles.

After service ended, I learned that the guy with the freckles had a name. It was a very nice name, that just happened to sound good combined with mine, if I did say so myself. And I learned that out of the three men, Boss was the only one who lived in College Station. Thank goodness for me! The other two men were his brother and his mentor/friend, and they were visiting from Ohio. (Later on I would learn that during this time, Boss was going through quite a dark period in his life, and his brother and friend were there to encourage him and to get him back on track with God. It was his friend who suggested they attend the little church that met in the Hilton that morning. So very glad that he did!) Lastly, I learned that Boss was not a student, but he was instead working in the area as a Manager for Champs Sports. An older, working man. I liked that.

Some of the college kids asked if the three visitors wanted to join us for lunch at Fajita Rita's (a Mexican joint), and they accepted. I wound up getting to sit right next to Boss throughout the entire meal. (See? Part of God's plan. Had my "friend" been in town, I would have sat right next to him, and Boss would have assumed we were a couple, as that is what everyone always assumed.Our relationship was not easily explained.) We didn't talk much, even though there were definite sparks, but I noticed everything that he said and did. He ordered Root Beer to drink. He had kind, shy eyes. He paid for the entire tables meals. He said that he would be back that night. Needless to say, I went home a very happy girl. Well, I went home a happy girl after I went to the mall and bought a new shirt to wear to service that night. And then I called my mom to tell her the good news, that we had visitors that morning, and that one of the visitors was cute. And she was nice enough not to say, I told you so. Boss did come back to services that night. And he told me that he liked my shirt :). See dad? That money I spent was totally worth it.

Over the next three months Boss would sporadically show up at services. He would be there several weeks in a row, and then he would disappear for awhile. Occasionally I would go and stalk him at his store in the mall. He was always polite when we would talk, always remembering my name, but always keeping his distance. During this time I was on again with my "friend", but Boss was never far from my mind. I would think about him, my special visitor that I believed God had sent just for me to remind me to keep my hope alive. I did not really think that Boss was my Mr. Right. In fact, one time I caught him looking at a picture of another girl that he carried in his Bible, and I assumed his heart belonged to someone else. But to me, he represented hope. Hope that you never knew who was going to walk right through a door and into your life. Hope that the Master Weaver was still up there at work, weaving people in and out of our lives, and you would never know when He was going to weave in the "one". Yes, Boss was my message of hope. My very cute, very studly, message of hope.

To Be Continued.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our Story (Part 1)

*** Nine years ago today, I met my husband for the very first time. At that time I didn't know that he was going to be my husband, but I did know that I thought he was quite good looking (read super hot), and that he made me rashy. All very good things. Seeing as we are currently celebrating the month of love, I thought it would be a good time to record the story of how we met and married on the pages here. Sometimes I want there to be more romance, more time together. Sometimes I wish that we never argued, or that we had done this or that differently. Sometimes I wish I still looked like we did when we first met. (Okay. I always wish that.) Sometimes I forget about how we came to be, as after nine years together it sort of begins to feel like we have always been. But when I take the time to stop and think about how God brought a small town Southern Ohio boy and a big city Texas girl together in the middle of Aggie Country (Whoop!), at a Hilton hotel of all places, I get chills. Our story is not one without bumps along the way. It is not perfect. But it is a great story, because it is ours. And we are definitely planning on living happily ever after. ***

With the telling of every good story, I believe that one must start at the beginning. I won't start at the very beginning, mind you, as I want to spare you the details of how my mother thought she was peeing on herself for a few hours before she realized she was in labor with me a month early (you can thank me later), but I will start with letting you know that I have always known that I wanted to get married. Always. Some people know that they enjoy the party lifestyle. Some people know that they would be better off being single. But not me. My heart was meant for marriage. When I was a young child and I had to sleep upstairs in a room all by myself, I did not long for a sister to share my room with me. I longed for a husband. That's right. I was a scrawny little eight year old who dreamed of my wedding day, so that I would no longer have to sleep alone. And my yearning to be married only grew with each passing year.

Back in my day, boys and girls started "going out" in the second grade. Seriously. All that really meant was that they would hold hands on the bus or on the playground, and that they would pass notes with 'I Love You's' back and forth. Now that my own daughter will be in the second grade next year, that behavior appauls me. No stinky boy had better lay a hand on my baby girl! Besides, she is going to marry her daddy. Ahem. But boy/girl relationships were thrust into my world at a very young age. In sixth grade I remember wanting a boyfriend so badly that I made one up. I named him Cody. We talked on the phone every single night. It's true. So very embarassing and sad, but true. And in junior high, my feelings of wanting a boy to love me only grew stronger. Again, not proud of how desperately I wanted affection during that time in my life, but I am just keeping it real.

I got my first boyfriend when I was sixteen. I sure thought he was a hunk. (Yes, we used the word hunk back then. We also used the words rad, chuck, and dude.) We "dated" for a couple of months and he was my very first kiss. He dumped me on Valentines day when he realized that I was never going to give him what he wanted. I was crushed. The next boy that I dated was a nicer fellow. He took me out to dinner a few times, took me for rides in his truck, and then he left for college. Bummer. Again, I was crushed. My last high school boyfriend was a bad boy. I am pretty sure my mother cried during the whole five months that we dated. I thank God that I was able to keep myself pure during the months that we were together, even though that is not what he wanted. And then I left for college. (Insert side note: My experiences with high school boyfriends, from my church youth group no less, are some of the reasons that I home school my children and plan on locking them in the basement until they are thirty. Or maybe forty. Or possibly forever and ever. Amen.)

College was a wonderful time for me. While I fully admit that I am one of those girls who attended college to get her Mrs. degree (aren't you glad to know that I graduated with honors?), I gained so much more from my college years than simply finding a husband. I was able to leave most of the insecurities and impurities that littered the halls of the highschool I attended behind, and I embarked on a new journey. I surrounded myself with Christian friends, friends with the same values that I had, went on mission trips, and figured out more about the person that God had created me to be along the way. My longing for a husband though, was still very much there.

My first college boyfriend was named Kenny. Wouldn't that have been cute? (Not.) Kenny and Kendra. Wow. Thank goodness that relationship did not pan out. I realized that good old Kenny was not the one when I figured out that his idea of a good date was to drive me to a creek underneath a highway overpass, so that I could sit and watch him fish in said creek. For several hours. Poor, poor Kenny. I sure do hope he has found himself a fish loving woman, because while he did have a very nice truck, he was not the one for me.

Shortly after Kenny, I met a boy who I truly thought was the one for me. We never technically dated. We were only ever "friends", but it was a relationship that consumed the better part of two years of my life. And while looking back I am so thankful that God spared us from ever getting involved with each other romantically (as he was clearly not the one God intended me for), those were sometimes very dark and emotional days for me. I was trying day after day to be something I was not. I tried to change myself to fit into the mold that I knew that my friend was looking for in a future wife. I felt more and more alone on the inside, but it was a relationship that I could not seem to get out of. One day we would be working towards maybe, slightly, a tiny future together, and the next day we were back to being just friends. I criend many tears over this boy. But it was also during this time that I began to draw closer to God. College was coming to an end for many of my friends, couples were starting to pair up, weddings were happening, and I was feeling more and more alone. I leaned on God like never before.

I began to wrestle with God about his plans for my life. Did He wish for me to remain single forever? Was marriage not in His plan for me? But if marriage was not in His plans, then why were my desires so strong? I began to earnestly pray about and for the partner that I hoped and prayed God was preparing just for me. I started a journal of love notes to my future husband before I even knew his name. I tried my best to daily turn my life over to God and His timing. And though there were still many questions and tears, I can honestly say that I began to find bits and pieces of peace and trust forming in my soul.

I remember clearly the night before I met Boss for the very first time. It was a Saturday night, and I was home early. My on again, off again "friend" was out of town on a guy's camping trip, and I was feeling sad. I was sitting on top of my worn white comforter, on my twin bed, in a tiny little house that I shared with two friends. I was talking on the phone with my mom. I had been for a couple of hours, and by the time we were nearing the end of our conversation I was crying. I asked my mom what I would do if God never brought someone into my life that He intended to be just for me. Someone that loved me for who I was. That didn't want to change me. And you know what my mom said? She said, "Sweetheart, do not lose faith. Do not quit hoping. He will bring your special someone into your life at just the right moment. For all you know, your Mr. Right could walk right through those church doors tomorrow morning." I didn't believe her, but I felt better as I got off the phone.

At the time I was attending worship services each week with about forty other Christians in a small conference room at the Hilton. Needless to say, we hardly ever got visitors, so I was certain that my Mr. Right was NOT going to be walking through those church doors the very next morning, but I went to sleep that night dreaming about how wonderful it would be if he actually did. Little did I know that my dreams were about to come true.......

To Be Continued.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Made New

Lately, my attitude has been suffering. Wouldn't you know that on my new journey to find Christ, Satan would try to smack me down right off the bat? It's true. He has. And it hasn't been pretty. I have been grumbling. I have been complaining. I have been throwing myself a week long pitty party. I have been fighting the urge to want "more" in life than what I have been given. I have been desiring more money and more time with my husband. I have been preoccupied and less than patient with my children, and I have been less than a tuned out house parent. Truthfully, a lot of my mood stemmed from feeling burned out of house parenting. It's nothing that the kids in our care have done or not done lately, I had just been desiring my own home and my own life. Carrying the burdens of so many people's lives had just gotten too heavy, and I wanted to quit. Or at the very least lock my door, crawl into my bed (alone), and pull the covers up to my chin. And not get up until summer. I am not proud of the way that I have been acting, but I am being honest. I needed a kick in the pants to get back on track with what truly matters in this life. Tonight I got one.

K (we will call her that for privacy), has lived with our family for a year and a half. When she first moved in with us, she was very angry. In fact, she ran away that very first week :). She had adoptive parents who loved her, but at that time she wanted nothing to do with them. She didn't want anything to do with anyone, really, unless we were talking about boys. She was (and still is) a teenage girl, after all:). But time passed, and day after day,month after month,we began to see layers of her anger and her rebellious spirit chip away. She began to smile and take pride in the way that she cared for herself and dressed. She raised her grades and started making plans for an academic future. She mended broken relationships with her family. Instead of tolerating worship services with our family, she began seeking and desiring answers on her own. Her heart changed and it showed in the way that she began to live her life. While I consider K one of our few "success" cases (out of 36), I had sadly (for me) began to think that our work with her was done. When you are in this field for any length of time, sometimes you begin to lose hope as so many young girls with great potential never amount to anything. It can become quite disheartening. So with all of the progress that K had made, I had somewhat believed that was as good as it was going to get. Shame on me. Because God was still at work.

A couple of weeks ago, K began to discuss baptism with Boss and I. She has been studying her Bible for quite some time, and she had decided that she believed that Jesus Christ was in fact the Son of God, and that she wanted to be baptized. When a child in the custody of the county wants to make a decision such as this, they must have county approval, so we started making calls, praying, and waiting for the final decision to be made. K's decision was already made, and I am confident that God knew her heart, regardless of what the county ended up deciding. Anyway, I did not know that tonight was going to be "the night" going into it. But it was. And it was awesome.

Boss got the privilege of baptizing K. A first for him. Bless his heart, he was so nervous. Everything he had planned to say flew right out the window, and he stuck with the basics, but that doesn't matter (I have reassured him:). What matters is that a soul has been saved. What matters is that a slate has been wiped clean, and a heart has been made new. It was a beautiful, sobering moment that reminded all who witnessed it that God does not give up on us, and that we are never so lost that we cannot be found. It was a sobering moment for me and my bad attitude that wanted to quit. That wanted to be selfish and lazy. And as we walked with K to the front of the auditorium tonight, my sweet husband whispered in to my ear, this is why we do what we do. And he is right. Not that it in any way, shape, or form is about us, but instead it is about God working through us, and everyone who surrounds these kids, to bring about His purposes for their lives. And even if K is the only one that we ever influence in this manner, then it is still worth it. I needed that reminder. With God, all things can be made new, whether it is K's heart and soul, or my bad attitude. With Him, anything is possible. This, I believe. I am so very proud of you, K!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Happy month of love, sweet friends! Valentines has never been "big" on my list of holidays, but this year I have decided to try and live it up, because, well, I LOVE love. I really and truly LOVE love. I love nothing better than watching a sappy chick flick about love, listening to music about love, or reading a good love story. All of the above make my heart pitter patter and my eyes mist with tears. I think love is amazing and beautiful, and this year I have decided to celebrate big.

Yesterday, I bribed one of the big girls to take down the remaining outside Christmas lights (yes, they were still up, and yes, it was cold), so that I could put up a cute little welcome sign made out of hearts by our front door. Then today, the girls (my little ones) and I decorated our dining room table for the month of love. And to top it all off, we made crayon valentines to hang in the windows. Quite a good start to February, if I do say so myself!

What else do I have in store for this month? Well, the big girls and I plan on watching every chick flick we can between now and the 14th, my littles girls and I plan on making homemade Valentines for those that we love, I plan on serving a special meal on the actual day of love, and I also plan on journaling here (over the next several days) my own personal love story with Boss (my forever Valentine). It is a good story! Scratch that. Our love story is a great one!

So happy month of love, sweet friends. While I certainly do not believe love should be celebrated only one month a year, I think it will be wonderful to concentrate specifically on the blessings of love that I have in my life over this next month, and I encourage you to do the same!