Our Story

My family of 6.
I still can't believe I get to say that.  I always thought I'd have a big family, then there was a time where I had to imagine what it'd be like without kids.  Now here we are with 4 children, all blessings from God, given to us in His time, not our own.

Here's our story...from the beginning... in the year 1998:

I was 14, Mike was about to turn 18...yeah, yeah go ahead get it out of your system--believe me, we've heard it ALL, plenty of times...especially from my parents ;)

Anyway, we met in the church youth group and a few months later went on our summer baptist youth camp trip at Fort Caswell.  It was there during a long conversation on the pier that our lives forever changed.  Age difference aside, we connected.  It's hard to explain exactly, because even I look back now and think, 'wow! what, of any true importance, could a 14 and 18 year old have in common with each other?'.  Who knows really, but what i do know is this: It's Always Been Him. From the first time we met, there just wasn't anyone else that mattered in that way. I'm not saying it was love at first sight, that's a little too gooshy for my taste, but we connected--it was a friendship then and it's a friendship now. 

Fast forward a year --Mike joined the Army and headed off to Basic Training.  As any other 15 year old girl would feel, it was the end of my world.  If I only knew then that it was just the beginning.  That was just the start of what would be a long line of separations in our relationship.  During the year of basic training and other schools our relationship survived on letters and an occasional email or phone call.  After all the training he was stationed at Ft. Bragg, just an hour and a half from our hometown and we spent the last 2 years of my high school years seeing each other most weekends and dating like any other couple would.  I remember every Sunday night being so sad that he would have to leave and we'd have to go a whole week before seeing each other again.  Goodbyes in the driveway would take an hour until my parents would literally flash the porch lights at us. 

September 11, 2001 happened during my senior year of high school and this was the start of a very different military and a very different life for us than we had ever thought we'd have.  In less than a year, just as I was starting my freshman year at college Mike deployed to Afghanistan for the first time.  It was a such an emotional time for me...starting college, growing up, the boy i loved off somewhere doing things and living through what i still, 14 years later, find it hard to imagine.   And again, what i didn't know then was that this was just the beginning.  Mike would end up being deploying two more times, next to Iraq and then again to Afghanistan before I ever even graduated college. 

I look back at all these times apart and see some sadness, but i also think about all that I gained and all the ways that I grew from these experiences.  Yes, i've been lucky to have one wonderful, patient, loving boyfriend throughout my teenage years who would later turn out to be my husband, but i also am happy to say that i didn't spend every second of every day either pining over him or hanging out with only him.  Okay, maybe there was some pining ;) but during the long times away from him I was able to really invest my time in and develop great friendships that I am proud to say are still great friendships today. 

In between deployments, the summer before my junior year at Meredith, on our 6 yr anniversary, Michael took me to Discovery Cove in Florida and proposed.  He did an awesome job planning it and it's a very cute story involving dolphins and two bended-knee proposals. That's a story for another time but the important part was the answer "YES" that came through my excitement and tears. 

We were married in April 2006 and it was a whirlwind few months.  Mike had been attending schools to become a Warrant Officer, we were participating in wedding festivities and wedding planning, all the while packing up our whole lives in preparation for our big life move to Hawaii. Right after the wedding we spent 2 fantastic weeks on a cruise through the Mediterranean for our honeymoon. A week after we returned I dove straight into graduation festivities helping plan one of our college's most special events, Class Day, with my roommate, saying goodbye to all of our friends and walking across the stage to receive my diploma.  Two days later, we boarded a plane for Hawaii, lugging 6 huge suitcases behind us, some tears in our eyes and huge smiles on our faces. 

When we stepped off the plane in Hawaii we were so excited about ...well about everything really.  I mean who wouldn't be excited to see Hawaii, much less get the opportunity to live there.  We were also just so excited to finally start living our lives together, married.  It was a wonderful few years.  We'd never spent so much time together in all our 8 years of knowing each other.  I won't lie and say it wasn't a big adjustment.  Learning to share your life with someone isn't easy, especially when you are in a new place with no one around that you know.  But there were LOTS of great times.  We spent the first year and a half of our marriage exploring the beautiful islands that God blessed us with the chance to live on.  We beached every weekend, and sometimes during the week, hiked, traveled to other islands--basically did what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. 

A year and a half after moving to Hawaii Mike deployed again to Iraq.  This was his 4th deployment, and this time it was for 15 months. I was so sad to see him go after such a wonderful year with him--and it was for so long this time.  But even when things aren't going the way we want them to, God always provides for us and thankfully, he blessed me with some wonderful friends to keep my busy while Mike was away.

I'd like to say that this next part isn't really a part of our story, but it is.  So here it goes.  Throughout our years in Hawaii, Mike and I struggled with infertility.  It was a huge blow to us and I was really sad for a long time.  We weren't really hearing anything positive from the doctors and by the time Mike was back from his deployment we were already saving money/working on adoption paperwork.  We just wanted a family so badly and i was so afraid it woudn't happen.  It's so easy to look back now and see how it all worked out in the end, because God's timing is and forever will be perfect, and i will preach that all the days of my life, but living through the experiences of infertility is a hard walk.  It's hard on a marriage, it's hard on day-to-day life, and it's hard on your faith.  It broke me down and brought me to my knees more times than I want to remember. 

But here's the great part.  Our miracle.  When talking over our options about infertility treatments, Mike and I weren't very sure some of the options were for us.  It's a big decision and one that each family has to make for themselves.  For us, we decided to start looking into adoption and in the mean time try a minimally invasive procedure that the military offers even though the doctors we not very hopeful in our case.  Two months after Mike came home from Iraq, we found out we were pregnant.  Two weeks after that we found out we were pregnant with twins.  I've never been more shocked or happy. 

Those two babies were the most precious things I had ever laid my eyes on. I will be forever grateful that Mike and I were given the opportunity to be parents to these two wonderful children.  What I learned from our infertility that I always had heard but never really knew is that everything in life is a gift.  Our families, our friendships, our loves, our health, our money and possessions, and yes, our children too. 

Upon Mike returning home, we were given another year and a half to spend as a family enjoying all the experiences of pregnancy, birth and parenting before he was sent on deployment #5, to Iraq again.  This time he was gone a year.  Deployments while dating sucked, while being married and far from home it was definitely lonely, but with kids it was absolutely heartbreaking. I made through with a LOT of help from family and friends.

Mike returned when the kids were 18 months and we spent the next few months basically introducing the twins to their Daddy again and enjoying our last months in Hawaii.  Right after Mike returned is when we learned we would be PCS'ing back to Ft. Bragg, NC. We were definitely sad to leave the beautiful islands, but we were also excited to be near family and friends again and for the kids to get to know everyone we love.

Before moving we decided to take a long-shot and try for one more baby since while we were still in a place to get some infertility treatments.  Again, i wasn't super hopeful because we only had a few months to do it and treatments take a lot of time.  We had one failed procedure, went home for Christmas and then came back to Hawaii preparing to try again when we found out we were already pregnant.  I had been on some meds for months, but again we had been told that even with doing everything they could our chances would be slim.  Talk about a real shock!

From the minute I found out we were pregnant I just KNEW it would be a boy--and I was right! It was a bit of a tough pregnancy and we moved to NC right in the middle of it, but on September 21, 2012 our second son came into this world--perfect and BIG at 10.8 pounds! As we settled into North Carolina living and being a family of 5, we found out once again that Mike would be deploying to Afghanistan.  He left about 2 months after the initial mention of it.  I was honestly kind of shocked at how quickly it all happened and once again I was left at home, this time with 2 three year olds and a 10 month old.  Thankfully this time family was so close. Those 9 months really were the longest 9 months of my life and that's saying something after 2 hard pregnancies!  The days really dragged on but the worst part was watching how hard it was on the twins now that they were aware that Daddy was gone.  Thank God for Skype.  We tried to talk to Mike everyday and when he did come home Davis knew exactly who Daddy was and things settled back in very quickly just like he'd never left at all.

Then for the biggest shock of our lives....about 2 months after returning home, I wasn't feeling quite myself and started doing a little math...then the realization hit me.  I'm pregnant.  Yep. That's right.  Babies were nowhere on our brain, but God sure gave us one--another 9 months and a fast and furious delivery, we were blessed with our 3rd sweet little boy, Macky.

This brings us to the present.  Raising 4 kids, getting ready for another move--this time to Rock Island, Illinois, and having to say goodbye to our family once again.  This life has sure been an adventure so far and the Army definitely adds to that...both with good and bad times.  But being an Army Family is who we are right now.  It's what we do. It's what Mike believes in and excels in, and i'll support him through it all.

You know, 17 years ago, i fell in love with a boy and look where it brought me, where it brought us.  The love i had then for that sweet young boy, is just a fraction of what i have for the man and daddy he is now. And you know what the best part is?  There is so much more to do still and so much ahead to look forward to.  Life is beautiful, through all the happiness and the sadness, it really, really is.  And we're ready for more.  So bring it!