Not long after the wedding I was able to meet Mike’s sister, Sheri, and her family as well as his parents, Bob and Alice. His entire family completely welcomed Charley, Caleb, and me with open arms as part of the family. They accepted and loved us and made us feel like we had always been in the picture. I still feel so blessed with that fact! The first year was filled with lots of “first’s,” including a honeymoon trip to Cancun in June of ’91and then a family vacation to Disney World in September. We also bought a new house that July. Mike taught the boys how to swim right away (in our very fun indoor pool), and they both started playing soccer.

They loved their school, Grace Fellowship, and continued to attend there for several years. Our church home became Victory Christian Center, where we still attend.

Around 5:50 a.m., July 26, 1992, we welcomed a beautiful little baby girl into our family. Our 7lb. 14oz. Stephani Lynn arrived very quickly for me after only 7 hours of labor. Mike practically had to deliver her, because she came before the nurses or doctor could get things ready. I finally enjoyed my first epidural and loved it of course! 🙂
Stephani was such a little princess; I couldn’t believe I finally had a girl, and she had two very proud big brothers. I was wondering one day (as moms will do) if in their minds they might think Mike loved her differently?! One of the boys had been told by another child that Stephani was only their half sister, and man did that ever cause an argument. Ha! So I decided to have an impromptu talk with them one day about the whole dynamics, and most likely made it a little more complicated than I should have. I had never for a moment sensed a difference in Mike around the boys; he truly loved them as his own, but I went ahead and took the opportunity to ask them. I finally got to the point and said, “Sometimes in these situations where there is a new baby, children might feel like their step parent loves the baby more.” They looked at me with big brown eyes full of mostly interest but also dipped in little confusion. Before I made my closing statement about how that wasn’t true and all…..I asked, “Do you boys ever feel like Dad loves baby Stephani more?” I assured them that they could tell me honestly.
They looked almost startled and Charley (who was now 8) looked up at me and in the most matter of fact voice said, “Oh…..I think he loves US the most,” to which Caleb nodded in agreement. I can assure you that was the truth in their little hearts, and that describes the type of dad Mike was (and is) to this day.

January 9,1995, we welcomed our second daughter, 8 lb. 2 oz. Jessica Lynn, (both girls share the same middle name with me) into our family. Jessica was the first of my labors that I felt no pain at all from start to finish, and I loved it!! Now we had two princesses, each one playing such an important role in our lives. We had become a family of 6, two boys, two girls….everyone had a buddy 🙂

Our children have always been close, and we cherish each one of them!
Life’s road has taken many turns, as it’s known to do; but I have been abundantly blessed, and I’m forever grateful.

This year Mike and I will celebrate our 24th anniversary. It seems so hard to believe that he was ever not a part of my life.
The past year we became “empty nesters,” and we love this part of our lives just like we have loved every season through the years. This is quite different for us, however, because we were never “just us two;” but how we treasure our alone time together…..making plans, being grandparents, we just never get enough of each other.
My heart still skips a beat when I hear the garage door raise and know he’s home from work. He still tells me I’m perfect (which I know I’m not :), but it always makes me smile. He loved me right through those first few years when my insecurities and fears would creep up, always being faithful and true to me, never giving me any reason to doubt him or lose trust. He’s never made me cry (except in a good way:), never spoken a harsh word or shown any anger towards me. We cherish each other, and not one day goes by that I don’t stop at least once (often more) and thank God for my husband and this Plan B that I’m living. Sometimes things don’t turn out like you planned……sometimes they turn out BETTER!

Only a couple more chapters left……

Jeremiah 29:11
I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

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