Anyone else out there have a non-traditional family that gathers a lot of stares and comments from strangers in public?
That’s us! If I had a dollar for every time someone said “You have your hands full.”, my children would have their college educations paid for. I always respond politely, but there is a definite inner eye-roll going on each time! How about “You have a beautiful family.” as a replacement comment? But I digress. That topic is another post for another day.
Today, I want to introduce my family! I have gained some sweet friends and followers since beginning this blog, and I realized most of you probably don’t know our story, or how we came to have our hands so full. Because I do not know how to write short posts (any other quiet people out there not know how to shut up when writing?), this will be in two parts.
First things first, our love story!
My name is Charlotte.
I am one of nine children, raised in the beautiful countryside of Kentucky. My parents and siblings are a bunch of artists, musicians, and creators. There is not an athlete among us, except for one rogue sister who decided she wanted to run marathons. And then she ran a lot of them. (Check her out on Instagram @fromicecreamtomarathon). Growing up, there was nothing we loved more than ice cream and each other. (Seriously, we are deeply bonded by a love for ice cream. Hence my sister’s runner name up there).
This family environment of love and creativity was all my young self needed to bloom into a wild dreamer. I read every book I could get my hands on. When I was eight years old, I read the biographies of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Anne Bradstreet, and was deeply inspired by these talented, groundbreaking women.
I copied their poetry into my diary and then wrote in purple bubble letters, “I want to be a POET when I grow up.”
Fast forward a decade or so, and I found myself head over heels in love with one of my best friends. This guy:
Jordan was, and is, everything I ever thought a man should be.
Jordan was one of eleven children, and grew up in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. We were both raised with the same beliefs, and in similar churches. We were both homeschooled. But that is where the similarities ended. Jordan’s family was as athletic as they come–except for one rogue sister who became an amazing pianist and artist (Every family has to have their one standout, I suppose!). The Schneiders dominated all the sports, and were famous in our circle of friends for their wild, mud-covered football games at the conference we went to every winter.
Jordan himself was the captain of both his basketball and football teams in high school. At seventeen, he was 6’4″ and 220 lbs. As if his athleticism and my creativity weren’t enough contrast in our budding relationship, Jordan was also brilliant in all things math and science. As in, he taught himself advanced physics in homeschool. And made amazing grades. And scored a 29 on his ACT, with a 33 in the math section alone. That put him in the 99th percentile of all high school students in America for that category, people.
Meanwhile, I never made it past Algebra 1. Oh, I was smart. But I was exclusively right-brained. I don’t think I have a left side of my brain, to be honest.
So here we were, two young kids falling in love with each other over the phone and MySpace messages, with 530 miles between us, and completely different interests. To our surprise, it did not matter in the least. I had always wanted a guy who could play guitar and write me beautiful love songs. Jordan couldn’t carry a tune, and during his one fateful experience in children’s choir, his mom gently told him that maybe he should “sing more quietly”. He had always wanted a girl who was athletic and would spend hours in fierce competition with him on the volleyball court. The only way I knew how to hit any ball was with the back of my head as I dove for cover.
But goodness, we were completely taken with each other’s hearts.
Our phone conversations would last until 3 a.m. He would call me after basketball games and give me a rundown of all the amazing moments, patiently stopping to explain things to me when I asked “What does that mean?” every other minute. Then I would read him my latest poetry, or regale him with my wild ideas for the future and how I was going to move to the Middle East someday to be a missionary. He built me up in every way, and made me believe every last dream was not only legitimate, but possible. I listened intently to every word he spoke, and my genuine interest in his life and passions affirmed him. We talked about God and beliefs and hypocrisy and love and what it means to be a good person.
We grew together. We grew because of each other.
For a year and a half we “not-dated” (my conservative Christian homeschooling people know what I’m talking about. You hold hands. You plan where you’re going to live in the future and how many kids you’re going to have. But you’re still just friends. *insert another inner eye-roll*). We “actually” dated for nine months. Then Jordan proposed, and we spent eleven months planning a wedding and a life together.
Finally, at the ripe old age of twenty, he married me. He kissed me like crazy in front of all the people we loved, the rain poured down on us all day, and I could not have possibly been happier. The Kentucky hills surrounding us were verdant and lush, my feet were bare in the spring grass, and the man I adored with everything in me was promising to be my best friend for life.
At this point in our lives, everything was new. We had never experienced true difficulty or hardship in any way. We knew pain could come, and probably would at some point, but we knew we could get through anything together, with God’s grace.
We were two kids in love. Life was just beginning.
Want to hear the rest of the story? Subscribe so you don’t miss it! Next week, I’ll tell how these two crazy kids in love became parents to four incredible children through foster care, adoption, and biologically.
UPDATE: As I sat down to write the second part of our story, I realized how difficult it was going to be. One of our beautiful babies is in foster care currently, and the confidentiality laws and simple common sense means I am very limited in what I can share. In most cases, I choose to share nothing. I decided to stay on the safe side, and wait to share our whole story until permanency has been reached. I will still be sharing bits and pieces in various blog posts, and I am free to share our foster and adoption journey with our oldest son. Thanks for understanding! I hope you’ll stick around to follow our ongoing journey in real time!
More posts you might like:
The Power of Celebrating My Husband
How We Got Started in Foster Care
Why We Are Choosing Day One