Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In the Begining...

~Our Story~ Part 1~

I was 17, he was 17. When on February 14th, valentines day. He asked me to "court him". Yes. You read that right. And no the year was not 1942. It was the year 2000. 

We were still in high school. Though I believe he was actually finished with his classes "at home", and was attending a local community college. I was about finished too. Perk of being home schooled, you can work at your own pace. We were both home schooled.

You can read more about what happened on that cold Valentines Day here. We "courted" for two years. I knew he was the one I was to marry. He did too. And hindsight. We should never have "courted" that young. But, we did.

Our courtship was tumultuous  There was quite a bit of legalism  and controlling. We didn't go "on dates" alone. Always someone was with us. We got together as families. My parents thought it rather odd, and would always ask things like "Are you sure this is what you want?". They loved Brandon, they were just concerned about a few red flags they saw. And rightly so. At one point Brandon and I were only allowed to write letters to each other. We  weren't supposed to speak to each other even at church. Hindsight, I can not believe I went along with that. But, I did. Because I really did love Brandon. Well, at that point I was "in like". Because the Love I have for him now, PALES in comparison to how I "loved" him then. Through it all, he followed along with what was asked of him. Of us. He fought hard to stay with me.

We did have fun together, and made great memories. But much of our "courtship" was wrought with heartache. Senselessly so. A works based faith, is not a freeing or peaceful place to be.

Upon graduating, I acquired a dance studio. And at the very tender and rather ignorant age of 18 opened my own business. I taught ballet, tap, and jazz. I also worked at a retail consignment shop, volunteered in the community, taught a after school bible program,Baby sat three days a week, all while taking professional dance lessons myself to further my "education". You name it. I did it.

 Just thinking about how busy my schedule was, makes my head spin.

My boy owned and operated his own business too. He began a lawn care business with his brothers while he was in high school. He worked long hard days through the summer and fall. And did school, and volunteered in the community.He was a busy guy too.

We grew up fast. We didn't party, or hang out with friends much. We shared ideas on how to grow a business, he helped me with computer spread sheets and accounting. I gave him ideas on cutting costs, and took him a cold drink when he was out working. Yes,we were so very romantic.

Looking back, we were probably the most boring 18 year olds ever. Ambitious. Naive. Hard working. Maybe too hard working. 
We were put on a pedestal we could not live up too. And very quickly,we teetered off of it. Fast. And the only people who put us on that pedestal were, in fact, ourselves. 

Yes. I was a classic case of an over achiever. A first born type A personality. My "god" was perfection. Doing it all, and yet never doing anything really well.

At the age of 19, we became an "us".

I got pregnant.

We came from conservative, highly respected families. And we broke our parent's hearts. It was by far the hardest thing I've had to confess. And confess we did. We shared at our rehearsal the Truth of our hurried wedding. In that moment I was so very proud of how my soon to be husband stood before our closest family and friends and made the announcement, that should be a joyous one, and instead left a room of loved ones in tears. Our immediate families already knew. But, sharing with our entire wedding party. That was rough. Friendships were damaged, some to never be restored. We also wrote a letter to our church to confess. And that, that made me want to run and hide. I didn't want to step a foot in the church. Feeling so judged and ashamed. Like I had a scarlet letter on my back, and everyone was whispering "There's the girl that got knocked up!".

My Man,(he transformed into one upon stepping up and taking responsibility, even though he was only 19)was determined to stick it out at our church. He dragged me back after our wedding. Why? Because, we knew a lot of teenagers had their eyes on us. He did not want to turn anyone away from Christ, because of our sin. We didn't want the teens to think we were "run off". We wanted to show them, you can make bad choices, but you don't have to run from God. He forgives. We weren't run off, but I can't say I felt a whole lot of love either. It was work to renew my mind, and remember who I was in Christ. To not let the slander of the truth of my sin, soak into my marrow and suck me dry.

 On July 11th 2003 we were married. In a park, with 250+ of our closest friends and family. Originally it was going to be a small affair. Then it grew, and the precious friends and family who lived far away, who we honestly thought wouldn't be able to come. Did come. That spoke volumes right to my heart.

I wasn't nervous at all on our wedding day. It was beautiful,and I had a peace that passes understanding. I knew I was marrying my  forever husband. There were tears, and tensions, and your average family drama. But, it was our day, and I basked in it.

The moment I saw my man, in his tux, and my eyes met his. The entire wedding party disappeared  In that moment I knew we were right where we were supposed to be. All three of us.

I learned a lot while pregnant and newly married. The people who chose to love and forget, were really not the people I would have expected to do so. While all of my friends were in their second year of college. I was in my second trimester of pregnancy.

My pregnancy went perfectly. I was never sick, I felt great. I remember thinking "Man, pregnancy isn't bad at all!". My pregnancy was a breeze (don't worry,God taught me that not all pregnancies are like your first.) 

 I want to stop and say this. We take full responsibility for our sin. And we sought to make it right. Do I still believe in waiting till after you are married to have sex? Yes. I do. And we plan to raise our kids, and be honest with them, telling them our story. The heartache involved. And how God's plan is much better than our fleshly desires. Brandon is the only guy I ever seriously "courted/dated". I refused to "date" anyone who didn't have the values I would want in a husband. That being said, I'm also not trying to beat anyone over the head. God forgives,and Loves! I'm so thankful and blessed that we both did not come into our relationship with any past romantic relationship baggage. Goodness knows we had enough baggage because of a poor choice we made, and God knew our bags were full just dealing with that!

And oh, did I have baggage. Guilt plagued me for a very.long.time. The days waiting for our baby to be born, went by very slowly. It was difficult for me to connect to "our baby" growing inside of me, because it just felt wrong. After we had been married for a few months, I realized I needed to get help. Thankfully God placed a few key people in my life, and I did a bible study "Lies Woman Believe and the Truth that sets them free." God used his Word, and re-affirming who I was in Him, to begin to transform my heart and renew my mind.

We didn't know what we were having. And in my ignorance I thought it was a girl. I laugh at that now. We had a few names, but I wanted to see him/her before we chose a name. 

And on November 16th 2003, we welcomed a very healthy, bouncing baby boy. Who weighed in at 9lbs 11oz! After 56 hours of labor, I had an emergency c-section. I had planned a home birth. Yes. You read that right. How God loves to teach us that His ways are not our ways!

When I held our baby boy for the first time, it was so surreal. I felt this intense love for him, and at the same time, intense fear. It was the first time I really remember my anxiety issues coming to a major head. I'd always had a little bit of anxiety growing up. But when he was in my arms the reality of our choice hit me like a ton of bricks. He was beautiful, and perfect, and mine. And it was a lot to wrap my 19 year old mind around.

I loved him fiercely  And the mamma bear came out, and the thought crossed my mind "if anyone ever dares to tell him he "wasn't planned" or is "illegitimate" I'll make it the last words they speak." But, that was where my fear was rooted, in acceptance,and approval. Wrapped up in what others would say/think. I wanted to protect him from all of the judgement I was feeling. I'm not entirely sure it even existed outside of my mind.

 We decided to name him Jackson Lee. After Brandon's grandfather Jack, and Lee is Brandon's middle name and my father in law's middle name.

Jackson means:God has been Gracious, shown favor.

The meaning of his name was very important to us. Especially me. To declare that "God has been Gracious" and claiming "healing" in our life through Jackson's life.

I carried so much guilt, and while I still had plenty of baggage left. A weight was lifted, when he was born. He was a beautiful baby,every nurse and doctor said so. He was BORN with long dark eyelashes. Seriously looked like the kid had mascara on. The tensions between us and our parents eased, when they laid eyes on their Grand baby. And that re-leaved my heart ache a little, as I'd convinced myself they would never love him as much as any of their other Grandchildren in the future. That was a lie right from Satan himself. Because they did, and our church did too. Everyone would always say "He is the most beautiful boy ever!" Though I was partial. They were right. He was. And he was not only beautiful, but so happy. Such a sweet, happy go lucky, baby. 

We took our baby home to a tiny one bedroom apartment, where most nights he slept between us. We always reminisce about that first year of wedded bliss. We were so happy, and in love. And loved our baby boy so much.

But don't be fooled. I had so much baggage left. So many insecurities. We were babies ourselves, responsible for a little baby. 

Brandon got a job at an accounting firm, he sold his share of the lawn business to his brothers, and was buying and selling used cars on the side for extra cash. I closed the dance studio after Jackson was born. The building was being purchased by a developer, and it just worked out. I became a stay at home Mommy,and worked nights as a receptionist for a hotel. We lived on very little, but were very happy.

And then when Jackson was three months old. I found myself pregnant. Again.

But this time it was different. This time we could rejoice,even in the shock. Yes, I was on birth control. No, it wan't "planned". But, we learned the first time, that God's plans are way better than ours. I still struggled with anxiety, and was oddly so nervous to tell our parents. 

Fear has a way of robbing your joy. 

Next installment:Baby number 2 and more...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking it in...

So, It's 2:20am.

I've been up with two children.

And our two dogs.

And I'm beyond tired.

I feel a cold coming on.

Maybe it's from a lack of sleep.

Highly possible.

There are so many thought's in my head.

The last week has been surreal.

No. Really. It has been.

The Glory of God has been shown all around us.

And in many way's, I feel like I've just shown up in my own life.

God stripped away nearly all I had.

All I "thought" I was.

And revealed to me, just how off putting I had been.

How I truly have nothing, am nothing.

Without Jesus.

There have been so many way's to hide.

So many ways to not be real.

I've been inspired to share our story.

And what a story I have to tell you.

It's not of my own doing, truly, it's God's doing.

Before I share our story. I need a disclaimer.

*I am not sharing this, to discourage any of my friends or family who read this blog.*

I am simply sharing what God has done, because I want to ENCOURAGE you!

I want to give hope!

I want you to have the freedom to be real, and celebrate what God is doing in your life!

Because I don't want anyone but God to get the Glory for all of these things.

To find the Holy, in the common place.

I'm going back into the vault.

 I am choosing to start at the beginning.

 Because, that's the very best place to start.

(Said singing Maria VonTrapp style. Apologies if I quote too many musicals. I know many of them line for line, and can't help my self.)

To be honest, I've hesitated for a long time sharing our story on this blog.

Being brutifully honest. (It's a Monkee term, for Brutal+Beautiful)

It's not an easy thing to share from your past, and be real, and transparent, and yet God honoring.

And respectful to the people involved in it.

But I shall try.

Because as God has shown me this week, HE is in ALL OF IT!

And, as for me, I'm just taking it all in.

Part 1 coming soon...

(After seeing Twilight Breaking Dawn-part two, this weekend, I feel like we should now break away to a really moving song. And hey! If some particularly toned guys want to run across the screen without a shirt on, I'm cool with that.;))

Que Dramatic Music

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I know I've had many people locally visiting our blog. And I wanted to give a shout out to all of you! So glad to have you stop by! No doubt, you came here to read about our family.

 Likely prompted from a group of extraordinary women.

Tears are flowing as I type this. We have just been so overwhelmed with the love and care of so many. I really can't even put into words what a blessing all of this has been. If you came here today, to read our story, because you have helped, or wanted to.


We really had NO idea anything like this could happen, and never sought it. God in his grace and mercy is using all of you to meet our real needs. And ALL of you are going above and beyond!
To Stacey, Erin, Erin, Mitzie, Amy, Darla and Martie, (forgive me if I've forgotten anyone)
You all have hearts of gold. I will treasure our friendships for the rest of my life. You women have blessed me in so many ways. I just can't believe how God has weaved all of this together. I've said it before, I believe our lives resemble a tapestry. Each thread weaved by the hand of God himself.

Sometimes in trials, it's hard to think that it could all be connected, that everything is weaving together for our greater good. I feel like God has blessed me with a rare glimpse at a part of the big tapestry he has weaved. You women, I'm convinced will be the bright reds, purples, and golds in our tapestry. The colors that take your breath away, and are used to make so many other colors.

You are my steel magnolias.

 I am a blessed woman to know each of you. Some just via phone/email. But, that's going to change soon. I will meet each and every one of you. To hug your neck and likely bawl my eyes out. You are changing our world, one loving deed after another. To think I did not know any of you last week, and now I feel like your sisters. Best Friends, I never knew I had.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

 For loving fiercely  For reaching out of your comfort zone. For asking the hard questions.
 For rallying others, and knocking down doors.
You are dearly loved. ((hugs))


I will be sharing exactly what is going on, and what these amazing women have been up to in the next few weeks. I want to say to my blog followers. If you are facing trials. If you feel alone.

Your not. God hears. He knows.

And more than that. He want's to help.

I've seen it myself this week. It's been nothing short of a Miracle.

Something you can only step back and say...


If He can do it for  me, and my family. He can, He WILL do it for you!

"Cast All your cares on Him, for He cares for you!" He says!

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE!"

"Look at the Birds of the sky! They do not plant, or harvest, or gather food into barns. And yet your heavenly father feeds them. You are More Valuable Then Them, aren't you?!"

I hope through all of this going on in our lives, it will do everything this song talks about.

Let's lay down our arms.

Let's quiet our Hearts for a little while.

Let's feel what we can not feel. Know what we can not know. Heal where we could not heal.

Because Love, Love is a Miracle.

Let's be a Miracle for someone.

That is my Miracle, What is yours?

What I love about this music video? How all you see is Love. It's stories from all over the world.

That are all intertwined by one thing. Love.

Friday, November 9, 2012

That Moment.

Ever have moments in time you want to remember forever?

 So, as not to forget it in the future?

I am a visual person. I see life in snapshots. Maybe that's why I love photography so much.

It's how I remember my life.

I have had quite a few moments today that I don't want to forget.

I woke up early this morning. I made my man breakfast before work.

Yes, round of applause, Thank-You! Thank-you!

Now for the confession. I NEVER wake up that early and make him breakfast. Okay, so maybe I did the first week we were married. Then reality set in, and I about died waking up that early. And my husband noticed I wasn't very nice. And let me off the hook. Yep, wife of the year. Not me.

 But, today I did it!

( Applause may resume.)

After the Mr. left for work. I sat down to work on a slide show of pictures of our baby girl.

I said I'd post that. And eventually I will.

I was reminded how quickly time goes by.

I was reminded of so many moments in time, that forever "stand still" because of a picture.

I was reminded of our many friends far away, and how much I miss them.

As I sipped my cappuccino I said to the Lord.

"Lord, I really miss my friends."

and a...

"Lord, life is really hard right now. I just don't think I can cope with all of this you have put on my plate."

And like only He can do. He provided.

A precious friend called me, who I'd not caught up with since we moved.

We talked for hours, and it made her not seem so far away.( Love you, Michelle!)

This morning I was feeling down, and needed a "life lift". (You know, like a face lift, tummy tuck, and botox all in one, and for what it's worth, a boob job thrown in.)

No, I've not had plastic surgery. But, I've heard it can do wonders. Or was it make people wonder?


A stranger left me the sweetest, most encouraging, comment on my blog (Hi Molly!).

God did it. He showed me in a real way, that He know's, He cares.

Then to ice the cake. He did more.

He is providing for us in a very real and tangible way. And we are just so.very.grateful! (Hi Erin!)

I want to be able to look back. And remember this moment.

The time will come when I can say to my Children...

"Remember THAT moment, when God showed up, in a VERY real way!?

(a handful of some of my favorite pictures of our Clara girl. Still can't believe she is EIGHT years old!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Life as we know it

Life has been pretty busy as of late.

On Monday Morning Elliott had a sleep deprived EEG.

Those are never fun. We stayed up all night Sunday night, took Daddy to work.
Then went for Elliott's EEG. Elliott was SO tired. He couldn't stay awake,
and that was exactly what we needed him to do.

We don't have the results from it yet. This was his fifth EEG since last year.
We've kinda become pro's at them. The reason for the EEG is because
the inflammation in his little body.

Ya see, Systemic JIA causes fevers, and in Elliott's case, seizures too.
We need to make sure he is not having consistent seizure activity.

Being that Elliott has had a rough few weeks of sleep, or the lack thereof.
I won't be surprised if the EEG comes back that he is having seizures at night.

That would mean we would need to go back on the seizure medications. Blah.
They are not fun. Pray for a miracle.

After the EEG we came home and crashed for a few hours. Or tried to.

I worked on school work with Jackson and Clara...and made the little boys lay down.

Then we loaded up in the van to drive an hour north, well, it *should* have taken
30 minutes. But thanks to the lovely traffic we encountered. It took an hour.

All of the children passed out in the van, and slept the whole way. I played loud music
and had the ac hitting me in the face to stay awake!

Elliott was measured and fitted for a special adapted stroller. (a fancy one at that)
We have decided to call it "Elliott's Cadillac". He was so exhausted, and not having a good day
 pain management wise, so I carried his little noodle body into the pediatric mobility office.

The front desk secretary looked at me and
said "Do you carry him everywhere like that?"
I said "Um, yes, Most days."
She says "Does your back hurt?"
I say "Um, yes, Most Days."
She says "Well, it won't pretty soon!"

Music to my tired ears.

Elliott had outgrown a typical stroller  and the one we were using hurt him.
(little to no padding,etc) The people at Pediatric Mobility could not have been nicer. I seriously could have cried. They were SO compassionate. We LOVED our friends at Midwest Orthotics in Indiana (our other kids wear foot braces,and Elliott has a compression garment from them). They were like a second family to us.

 I was SO blessed that Pediatric Mobility, knew of Midwest (small world!) and had the same family like atmosphere.

When your child is in and out of cold doctors offices, being in a homey welcoming office just makes a world of difference.

Of course there was a mound of paper work to collect. They were straight with me and said it can take weeks to compile all of the doctors/therapists letters, submit it to insurance, and get it approved.

IE: You could have your adapted stroller in...3 months.

Except, we could really use it, like yesterday.

After the fitting appointment we went up to Macon Children's Hospital.

I'm learning my way around town...all based around where the hospitals/therapists/pediatrician's offices are.
We have been collecting cell phone chargers for the Children's Hospital. When parents drop everything and take their children to the hospital, usually the last thing they think to grab is their cell phone charger. It's also one of the first things you really need, as most families travel from quite a distance, and need to make long distance calls. (Something you can't do on in room phones) Wouldn't you know the nurse at the nurses station was the nurse who took care of Riley. Such a nice guy. And he was shocked at how many chargers we'd collected! The kids really liked being able to help, and Riley liked introducing them to the PICU team that took care of him.

By this time it was about 6pm. Daddy didn't have to be picked up from work until 8pm. So we headed over to Mercer University Park. I pushed all four of my babies on the swings, and basked in the glory of how thankful I am for them.

It's so humbling to walk into a PICU, and walk OUT with ALL of your children.

I don't take it for granted.

By the time we picked up Daddy from work...I could barely keep my eyes open. And we still had to head home, make dinner, do baths, and put kids to bed.
On Tuesday Morning I contacted Elliott's doctors to follow up and ask if they had sent in the paper work  needed for Elliott's adapted stroller. (I had contacted them a week before,hoping it would already be in the mobility offices hands for our appointment. But yea. It wasn't.)
 They informed me:
"We sent it a few minutes ago"

I called the Mobility office,
She inform's me:
"We got everything we needed...TODAY!"
"We can order his stroller...TODAY!"

Praising the LORD!!!!

Brandon took Tuesday off. It was so nice to have him home!
We took all the kids with us Tuesday to vote. That was so fun! No really, it was!

Georgia is high tech too! All digital ballots. Fancy!

To top if off they gave all of us "I'm a Georgia voter" sticker with peaches on them, of course!

We talked to the kids about the election process.

I asked Clara who she would vote for and her answer?

"Well, I'm not too sure. I mean, President Obama, is uh, our President. And we are supposed to respect and honor him. Because God tells us to. But, I know when we watched Mr.Mitt that he had a lot of good things to say. But why can't they both be nice to each other? I think I'd like to vote for a girl. Is there a girl to vote for Mom? Cause girls are nice."

I feel the same way baby girl. Why can't we all just be nice to each other? And, yes, I think a Woman would make a great President! Clara 2016!

Tomorrow is our Clara girls 8th Birthday. I really can't believe it. I'll put together a little video of her and post it tomorrow.

If your still reading...well...your a true friend.

For pictures of our life over the past few days follow me on instagram!

So. That is Life. As we know it.

And, to be honest I was so bummed to hear this duo has called it quits. For now.
I *might* have been more bummed about that, than the Elections. Just kidding.
Kind of.
Really hope it's not the end of the Civil Wars as we know them to be.