e l l a…

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Dear Ella,

We celebrated your first birthday this past Saturday along with Uncle KJ, Claire, Ty, Lucy Claire, her pal Laurel, Sadie the Cupcake Queen and Kerald.

We went to my favorite restaurant and had pink drinks and appetizers and of course, I had my Wasabi Chicken Salad. As soon as your pretty teeth learn the art of chewing we will have girl dates to Bistro Byronz and I will treat you to this salad. Yum. But we know birthdays are for cupcakes and you know a good cupcake when you see one…before my camera was ready you dug in! We don’t blame you. Sadie knows cupcakes.

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0987You had no idea you were an official whole number but you had a fantastic grasp on the bash in your honor…and you were twenty different kinds of excited. I get the feeling life will be cause to celebrate when you are around. Your enthusiasm for life is captivating and contagious and I pray it never stops!

You love an audience…attention…you amaze us with your love of people…and trust me when I say they love you right back.

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Lucy Claire and Laurel brought handmade cards. Adorable.

You got some really cute and educational toys but all you want is the tissue paper and boxes! You will make Christmas shopping super easy if this remains your joy.

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So…this is you at 1. You’re taking a few steps now and talking ALL DAY LONG. You have a language all your own and love to sing. You love patty cake and sign language and we recently discovered Elmo’s World. This is a nice break from Baby Einstein. We are convinced you’re brilliant and we tell you about it daily. Every night before bed we hammock and say Psalm 23 together.  Poppy is super close to having it memorized. We pray over you and remind you that you are created for a purpose and God has big plans for your beautiful life.

We can’t wait to watch you grow…but let’s take it slow….

We know it’s best to let you be little.

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We love you Ella.

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t i n d e r e l l a…

treeAt the end of this blog there is the most beautiful video I’ve ever seen…

But before that, there was this…

I honestly don’t know where to begin…the story of us is so much more than I can squeeze into a blog post.

It’s a novel and perhaps one day I will write it and read it and wish I were her… then suddenly realize I am…and smile.

I know our story begins way before we ever met…but I’ll start from the part where I actively participated.

I was living with my parents in East Texas after I closed Rabbit Martinis. I had prayed and committed to 90 days of working on myself so I could get back out there and either open up the juice bar again or possibly go back to teaching. When I moved from Lubbock to Jacksonville I was depressed and broke and broken. Not pretty. It was humiliating to be 45 and moving in with your parents but there was a tug on my heart and I was being led by something bigger than myself. I focused on spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and financial improvements.  I spent time praying and reading anything that drew me closer to God and His plan for my life. I listened to uplifting music and fought the negativity with metaphorical swords and a gratitude journal. I looked myself in the mirror and told myself I was loved and God was not finished with me yet. I signed up to sell Nerium and went outside my comfort zone and made cold calls and advanced to Director and had some cash flow. It was January and freezing temps but I bundled up and ran the country roads by my parents’ house. My dad sometimes followed behind me with his car lighting the way so I could keep my commitment to improve physically.  I was determined. I was my own personal life coach and I was kicking my own butt. I drove by a gym in town and stopped to see if they needed any help or if I could possibly barter my knowledge of women and weights, or teach a juicing class in exchange for a membership. The answer was no.

After 90 days I was ready to go back to Lubbock…I missed my babies terribly and it was time. After paying bills, I needed a few more dollars to help with the gas money to drive the 400 plus miles. I called an individual that I met while selling Nerium and asked if he needed any help at his car dealership. I could organize files or office space…design ads…heck, I’d answer phones…I just needed to make about $200. He called and asked for my resume. A former juice customer was a staffing and recruiting guru in town for Texas Tech Homecoming. She gave me her business card and told me I needed to be on 7th street in Dallas. I saved her card and after moving in with my parents I reached out to see if she could help me with my resume. She did and I sent it to my friend. He gave it to his brother in law and the phone rang. I met him the next day and he said he needed some marketing help with his steel recycling firm.

I’ve been where you are. I know you want to get home to your children but can you give me 3 months. If you want to do this,  I really need a commitment.

For real? 3 months. You mean 90 days….90 more days.

I got in my car and prayed.

God give me a sign. I need to know this is from you. I want to go home.

My phone rang on my way back to my parents’ house. It was the man offering me the job.

Hey, do you work out?

No. I mean yes. Well, I just run or walk or whatever. Why?

My wife and I have a gym membership and I’m happy to put you on our plan. It will be good for you. Stop by the gym, I’m here now and I’ll sign you up.

What?

You know it was the gym I wanted to join but couldn’t.

So I took that as a sign and agreed to 90 more days.

Not only did I get a gym membership but he set me up with his personal trainer.

It’s time to meet Kurt…

One night after an intense crossfit session I drove into Tyler to Smashburger to get some food. I placed my order and shortly after sitting down my vision got wonky and I felt super strange. I tried to activate the lamaze that carried me through 3 deliveries and breathe my way past whatever was happening to my body. The pain progressed, I was getting nervous and called my sister to come get me. I thought I was having a stroke but later found out I was having what is known as a complex migraine. My words were jumbled and there was a disconnect going on in my brain. Let me just say it takes a lot for me to ask for help…HELP.

Glenda picked me up and put me to bed with some tramadol for the pain. Once the pressure relieved around 2 am, 2 days later, I did what any wide awake American would do…I got on Facebook….and then…blame it on the tramadol…I got on Tinder. When what to my wondering eyes did appear but a cutie named Kurt.

I swiped.

We matched.

The next morning I had a lengthy, courteous hello.

I read it. That’s all. Just read it.

That evening I had another lengthy, courteous hello.

I read it. That’s all. Just read it.

The next day I dug down deep into my flirtatious reservoir and politely responded…

Hello Kurt. You type a lot.

Yep. That’s my game. It’s strong.

He laughed and continued texting me even though I’m every bit of a rude texter.

The day we met I thought I could make him run.

I let him know straight out of the gate that I lived with my parents, I’d lost everything and my car was going to be repo’d in a day or two.

He stuck around…even asked for a front row seat to the show.

He invited me to his show. He races motorcycles….no doubt he makes me blush when he slips into that leather suit but what impressed me more was his commitment to his occupation. He is a total nerd. A smoking hot daredevil brainiac and it didn’t take my heart long to melt.

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After 14 months of long distance we decided to remedy the distance..being the designated gypsy of the mix, I moved to Baton Rouge.

Within 5 months of getting to spend more time together we were engaged and planning a wedding. We knew we wanted a small, simple affair to join our families and played with ideas of flying us all somewhere or flying the kids here…we wanted it to be about them. We could go to the courthouse and call it good and it would not make us love each other any less, but we knew this moment was more than just a trip to a judge and leaving with an official document. What we had found needed to be seen and shared with the ones who matter most to us.

Plottwist…

In May, in the middle of all the planning, Kurt received a disturbing call and rushed to get his granddaughter out of harm’s way before she became a case for the state.

Say hello to Ella.

Say hello to me knowing more than ever before that closing my juice bar and answering the tug on my heart to move 7 hours away to my parents for 90 days only to be asked to remain for 90 more was part of a much bigger plan. 

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We took all the plans before and tossed them. We decided it would be easiest on everyone to meet somewhere in Texas. Kurt began looking for venues in Austin when he stumbled upon Hotel Ella. What could be more perfect? I got in contact with Kristen Dyess and shared our story with her. She was so encouraging and welcomed our event with open arms. She introduced me to Maggie and between the two of them arrangements were made for a sweet ceremony outside under the pecan tree. The hotel was magnificent, everything was perfect and the staff felt like family.

My spontaneity gene was beneficial in planning all the details of our wedding. I found a dress within 20 minutes at Gabriella’s in Baton Rouge. I think I made their jaws drop when I said I was marrying in a week, but they were happy to help. I called my dad to see if he knew of any preachers in the Austin area that might be up for officiating our vows and he directed me to Tommy Estes. So happy he did. The kindest soul of a man and even though we met 30 minutes prior, he gently encouraged us and prayed over us with words we will cherish forever.

The day of the wedding was a flesh/heart struggle. I was scared. How am I going to do this? This child. This new calling. The what if’s. The fear of the unknown.  I knocked on Paige’s door and all three girls were inside. I said, “time to pray!” We circled up and each of them prayed over me and then I asked God to give me what I needed for the task He had called me to …you see…it wasn’t just about me being Kurt’s wife…that’s easy…I’m all in…it was about us, together, loving and nurturing and providing a home for this little girl… I left that room and never looked back. All I see now is the beauty of not only me and Kurt in her life, but my daughters, and my son in law, and my grandson and all those who will later join us as family.

Ella…you are not abandoned. You are surrounded by so much love and strength and not a day will pass that you are not prayed over.

***Kurt…I know you are reading this. I would love to hear your side of the story. I know you can type…Sir Typesalot. Maybe you should be the blogger in the family and I’ll just be cute and buy shoes and decorate the house…

Finally, I’d like to offer this toast: Here’s to being crazy enough to quit our jobs and nurture our entrepreneurial spirits. Here’s to falling on our faces and losing everything. Here’s to parents who say we can move home at 45. Here’s to crossfit and headaches and sisters who take good care of us.  Here’s to Tinder…here’s to being brave and taking a chance on love again. Here’s to dancing and feeling like a princess. Here’s to wearing white and believing in the blood of Jesus as a redemption for our sins. Here’s to the children who need us and the God that gives us strength and provision to meet their needs. Here’s to marriage and love and mystery and grace. Here’s to all the days ahead that will give us opportunity for growth and a chance to offer kindness to a hurting world. Here’s to you Mr. Miller. Here’s to being your wife.

You killed the gypsy…you’re stuck with me.

I pray that if you are wondering if God has a plan for your life that you can read our story and trust that He does…trust His timing…trust the journey…and if and when I forget…remind me of what I just told you.

love gina

Calvin Millar, you are ridiculous. Thank you for letting us be in the moment while you captured it…Now click on the following link and enjoy a front row seat to the best day ever…wish you could’ve been there…

Kurt and Gina Wedding

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