Thursday, November 26, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

OK, it may not be a fairy tale, but it's "our story" and it began 14 years ago believe it or not! We are blessed to be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary tomorrow, November 27th! I know some of our closest friends have probably heard "our story", but I thought in honor of our 10 year anniversary, I'd post the story for others to read. And also to have it documented so that maybe my children will be able to read the story of how their mommy and daddy met. So, with that being said, let me begin...

Once upon a time...
In the summer of 1995, we spotted each other sitting in traffic and all I saw of him was this...

He smiled, I returned the smile...we spoke not a word to each other that day.

Then a year later, after softball practice and while still "sporting" my cleats, I met a nice guy at the shaved ice place. No more than that...he just fixed me my favorite strawberry sno-cone, and I drove off.

While collecting shaved ice for the co-workers at my 1996 summer office job, he asked for my phone number. I am sure I gave him a very strange look, so he said I seemed like a nice girl and he wanted to set me up with a nice guy (headed for med school that fall) who worked for him at the shaved ice stand. I agreed. He seemed pretty genuine. I went out on a date with the guy headed for med school. Nice guy, but no sparks between the two of us.

About 6 months later, while living in Memphis and halfway through my freshman year of college, my answering maching revealed a message left by Jan Hensley, "The guy from the shaved ice stand". My roommate knew him, but I barely knew him. All I knew was he was the one who served me my favorite strawberry shaved ice and tried to be my match-maker for some reason. There was something about him that I trusted, although I did wonder why he was calling.

I never returned that message he left. I went about busying myself with life, I guess.

Then, in April of 1997, I was at home in Covington preparing to leave for Hawaii to play softball with my teammates for a week when the phone rang. Jan had called me at my parents' house and he was asking if I remembered him. "Of course I remember you," I replied nicely. His next question surprised me a bit although I think somewhere inside me, I knew it was coming. "Would you like to go out sometime and get something to eat or see a movie?" :-) "Sure" was my answer, but "it would have to wait until I returned to town in a week or two, if that's o.k." I said I would call him when I got back, and I did.

We saw Wesley Snipes in Murder at 1800 on our first date. I don't remember where we ate, but I think it might have been J.Alexander's in Cordova. I thought he was nice and very handsome. I liked being with him.
We continued to spend more and more time together that summer of 1997 getting to know each other, weathering the "bumps in the road" that come with almost every immature relationship. I spent that summer wrestling with the desire to let myself love him and be loved by him, and I know he struggled to hang on to the idea of a relationship with someone younger and not so sure of what she wanted.

But then, at the very end of August, the end of a summer we would never forget, we both agree that we had "THAT MOMENT"...the moment we BOTH knew without any doubt that we LOVED each other, that this was REAL! I will never forget sitting on that stinky bus after white water rafting with him, and amidst all those people and the jolts and jars the bus gave us and the arguing between my best friend and her boyfriend, we looked at each other and it was like we were on that bus alone. I really can't describe how I felt, but I knew I had never truly felt that way before. (Call it cheesy if you like! I don't know if anyone else has ever had "that feeling", but if you have, you know what I mean!)

From that moment on, things were different. I looked at him much differently. I saw my future with him in it! Now, I am not gonna say things were perfect from then on because that would be a complete "fairytale". Besides, is anything ever perfect?

A year and 3 months later, he asked me to marry him under a tree out in the middle of a field in Cades Cove National Park. I wasn't expecting it that day, although we had talked about the idea of getting married. I cried, he cried. I thought it was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen!
We took our children back to Cades Cove just a couple of weeks ago, and we told them why we love that place.

We were engaged for a year, as planning a wedding and trying to finish college takes time, you know? The year flew by! As it turned out, several of our friends and family members got engaged and married that same year. Some of them teased us by saying, "First to get engaged, last to get married!" Our wedding took place on the Saturday that followed Thanksgiving, November 27 which also happens to be my brother's birthday! He didn't seem to mind that we picked that date. It was a beautiful service, I thought. We were surrounded by friends and family and had a great time celebrating afterwards! We spent our wedding night in Memphis at the Peabody, and then left for Maui a couple of weeks later. We covered every inch of that island while there, took the road to Hana, snorkeled, spotted blue whales, traveled to the top of Mount Haleakala for a breathtaking sunrise, and of course, pigged out at a traditional Hawaiian luau.

And now, 10 years later, we will return to the Hawaiian islands yet again, to celebrate where we've come in 10 year's time. 10 is hard to believe that in this time we have experienced so much change, but yet still remain mostly who we were when we first set out on this journey. God has blessed us with so much that I feel completely undeserving of. I look at my 3 children and try hard to think about the time in our marriage before they arrived. It's sometimes hard to do! I love that I can look at each of them and see my husband in them. I think I have loved him more with the birth of each one. I am thankful for each and every moment of life we have experienced together over the last 10 years. And I am looking forward to the next 10 years and more with him!

Happy Anniversary, Jan!
Thank you for 10 wonderful years! 
P.S. I am glad you asked me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Mr. Christmas Tree,

In the spirit of Thanksgiving...
I know we all have a variety of plans for the upcoming holiday week, and I want to take a moment to wish everyone reading this a wonderful Thanksgiving! We have much to be thankful for! God is so good!

I have alot in store for this week off from work besides giving thanks with family and enjoying some great food later in the week. I don't mean to belittle the Thanksgiving season, but my plan like many other people was to get all Christmas decorations up by next weekend, and I have to get started early in the week if I plan to accomplish this goal. With 3 small children, you can imagine how my "decorating time" is frequently interrupted and very limited! It'll get done somehow, I'm sure.
But after a recent event in our lives, I have refreshed my way of thinking about the rush to get it done and the time frame in which I had planned to get it done. And if it doesn't get done this week...oh, well! I neglected to get one thing done from my "to do" list (which was scheduled to start today), and this is how I would imagine my explanation of neglect...

Dear Mr. Christmas Tree,

How are you? Oh, how I have missed you! Has it really been almost a year since we last saw you? I know that today I had planned to welcome you back to your shining spotlight in our house so that we could enjoy your beauty for the next several days and weeks. (We do enjoy your company very much!) But, Mr. Tree, I think you'll understand my reason for not visiting with you today. You know how your job is to hold the beautiful ornaments that we treasure so carefully in your boughs? Well, I, too, have a job that is of the utmost importance, a job placed upon me by my Creator which I am eternally grateful for. A job where I am to treasure these gifts of life I have been given. And that is my role as a mother to my 3 beautiful children. They needed me today a little more than normal, and I needed to hold them. So, Mr. Tree, while I love to spend time with you and while others have already welcomed their tree friends back, you'll have to patiently wait your turn. I can't wait to see the joy I know you will bring to my children this season as we give thanks for the blessings God has given us! Thank you for sharing in these special times with us. We'll see you very soon! I promise.


Happy Thanksgiving!
From the Hensley Family

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Like Fall Leaves Drifting By...

So are the recent days in our lives. (Almost sounds like the daytime television soap opera.) Sometimes I think our daily lives might make a good show. Not really, but maybe better than the soap opera I was eluding to here. Sorry if I have offended any "Days" fans out there!:-)

Anyhow, we have been ultra busy through the month of October and that mode of "busy" seems to have carried right on to November. We kicked the month off with Jan's birthday. The children enjoyed picking out his gifts and especially enjoyed sharing in his chocolate cake. One thing that is a "must" for Jan's birthday is CHOCOLATE cake. So, this year I ordered a chocolate cake with chocolate icing PLUS chocolate covered strawberries...if that's not enough chocolate, I don't know what would be! It was really good! And I am not even a big chocolate fan. Here's a couple of shots from Jan's birthday dinner we had last Tuesday night. Notice he had a little help blowing out his candles.
Mary Claire seems to enjoy chocolate covered strawberries as much as her daddy does!

The next morning we decided to take the ENTIRE clan on a weekend trip to East TN. That's right! Kiddos, too! Jan's sister gave us tickets for the UT game, and I knew Jan really wanted to go. So I put aside the desire to just say no to avoid the struggle of dragging 3 small children on a road trip and then to a HUGE stadium with thousands of people in attendance. I decided that I would adopt Jon and Kate's motto for the weekend...It may be a crazy life, but it's OUR life. After all, it is in times such as these that some of the best memories are made, right?

And wonderful memories were made! Plus, it wasn't that bad. I have been blessed with children who are fairly decent travelers. The boys are great when traveling, always have been. Mary Claire wasn't sure about it at first, but realizing that she really didn't have a choice, I think she adapted pretty quickly. We stayed in Pigeon Forge, visited Cades Cove on Saturday, and cheered the VOLS on that night in Neyland stadium! It was so much fun! The kids surprised me with how good they were at the game. No whining, fighting, no multiple trips to the bathroom or harassing of nearby spectators...all things I had prepared myself for. Only a nice compliment on how well-behaved our children were from the man sitting behind us. I wanted to laugh out loud when he said it(He probably just said it to be nice, anyway), but I just smiled and said, "Thank you" as we left the game early to avoid the traffic. The boys loved the game, the fireworks(which we got to see every time TN scored), the U of M band (which was just down from our seats), and the stadium food we ate.

The weather was perfect, and I found myself thankful for the fact that I didn't let my worry of taking everyone on this trip keep me from doing this. Here are some of my favorite shots from the weekend...

Love this one because it shows John Owen's enthusiasm as he cheers with the crowd and Jonah's silliness when he knows the camera's on!

No, we didn't just pick up another kid for the trip! (3's enough, don't ya' think?) This is our cousin, Owen Thomas. My boys loved spending time with him on the trip. He got in our vehicle before we got to East TN and stayed with us until it was time to travel back. I got to imagine what it would be like with 4 kids while he was with us.

And they're off! Runnin' up the trail to the first cabin we visited at Cades Cove.

Cades Cove--November 2009

My boys' (& my little girl's) 1st Neyland Stadium game!

Just ONE of MC's reactions on the Jurassic Boat Ride!

Digging for fossils at the Dinosaur Walk Museum

We took alot more pictures and as you can see, we even stuck around in Pigeon Forge and did a couple of fun things before leaving Sunday. Great weekend trip!

Funny highlights we'll be talking about for awhile: "Road Rage" with a man sporting a handicap sticker from his rearview mirror. He called me CRAZY through his window. I thought it was funny! :-) Jan almost running over an outdoor grill at the condo. Why must he always find something to back into? Scaring the OOGA BOOGAS out of John Owen, Mary Claire and MYSELF on the Jurassic Boat Ride. Yes, I was scared and I shouldn't have taken MC on it! Jonah and Jan were just fine the whole time. Jonah was even reassuring John Owen that "the dinosaurs weren't real!" I got to eat at a Cracker Barrel (Jan thinks it's corny, but I think it's a MUST when traveling along I-40 or anywhere for that matter).

I'm already looking forward to next time! :-)