Nice to meet you

Craig and I in Mexico for our 7 year anniversary!

I realize, humbled by this realization, that many of you have shared my blog and our story with friends, family, strangers.

I know I asked you to share our story, for prayers for our family and for Evan, but I know how busy lives can get and I wasn’t going to be upset if some of you decided not to spread the word.

I only know that I wanted the angels in Heaven to tire of hearing our voices and our requests for healing, strength, peace for Evan and our family…even if it meant it was just my small circle of friends and family praying.

But, I’ve been humbled by emails and messages of complete strangers praying for us.

I know now that my story is now a part of your story…my blog readers who are so faithfully praying for us.  Now, my Evan, is now your Evan, too.

For those of you that don’t know me personally, I want you to learn about my family.  I want you to understand that you’re not just praying for a little boy, but you’re praying for a legacy, the continuation of a love story that started many, many years ago.

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*The first part of this is a re-post.*

Ugh…it was the first time we’d be with the high school kids.

The 9th grade school had kept my friends and I sheltered another year before we had to move onto the “real” highschool.

But now, I was a sophomore.  A girl crying on the inside suffering from all things teen who desperately wanted to be accepted and popular.  The cheerleading uniform I donned was a good cover up to the self esteem that was painfully low.  And being surrounded by friends who were beautiful, funny and smart helped conceal the me I was so scared for people to see.

I was loud, joked often, perky, and cheerful. And most days, I was living honestly.  I was happy.  As happy as a 16 year old could be going through the transition of high school and growing up.

And no, this is not in invitation to a pity party, but just an honest account of who I was then because it’s shaped me to who I am today.

But back to the first day at the High School.

I was at a pep rally to get the school riled up and excited about the new year.  But really, it was just another excuse to see the faces you hadn’t seen all summer long.  A good mix of friendly faces were in the crowd that I had remembered from the past school year.  The Band was playing our fight song.  I love the Band.  I secretly wished I could play and instrument and wear a cool hat and march on the field.  But no, I was the annoying, perky, bow wearing, Asian chick on the side lines in the skirt that was waaaaay to short.  I scanned the crowd – in the stands and on the sideline – just to scope out who I’d be passing in the halls from the Commons area to building 10.

Then, I saw him.

I cheered on my side – the Junior Varsity side – and watched the “older” girls effortlessly cheer, work the crowd, tumble.  Be all I wanted to be.

He was tall.  Kind of awkward.  A Duffer for the varsity cheerleading squad.  A Duffer was a guy yell leader – NOT a cheerleader.  Duffers traveled with the cheerleading squad to all away games, carried megaphones and pom poms and the varsity squad’s bag.  They were guys who got to hang with the girls in the shorts skirts.  Pretty cool gig.

He was cute.  Super tall.  Probably over 6 feet with long brown hair that he would habitually put behind his ears.  He would laugh and he had the best smile.  I instantly liked him.  I didn’t know a thing about him but his name…but I knew I had to get him to notice me.

Getting this guy to notice me was going to be tough.  He was surrounded by beautiful girls.  Was in a band for, goodness sake.  He was a Senior. And I was a lowly sophomore.

Call it fate.  Call it hormones.  But I knew in an instant I was going to marry, Craig Hounsel.

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We dated on and off through out his Senior year before he went off to college at North Texas.  We decided to break things off his Freshman year – we wanted to make sure he had the full college experience – parties, dating, etc. We still saw each other and kept in touch.

Two years later, it was my turn to graduate high school.  I packed up and headed to West Texas to go to Texas Tech University – “Get ‘ur guns up!”

Craig decided he would transfer from N. Texas to Tech…he said it was to get away from Dallas…but really…I bet it was for me 😉

And just like we did for his Freshman year, we decided to give each other the opportunity to see other people and fully enjoy the college life without the commitment of being exclusive.

We both joined the Greek community – I pledged Zeta Tau Alpha and he pledged Kappa Sigma.  We were thrust into a world of endless parties, mixers, and all things awesome that started and ended with red Dixie cups, beer pong, beer bongs, shot buses, spring breaks to South Padre….OH…what fun!

As much as I loved college life and my new wonderful friends and all the handsome boys…I already knew my heart was taken.

We dated pretty much exclusively until he graduated in 2000.

He then moved back to Dallas…and then he made the move to San Diego.

Craig went through a stage that he isn’t afraid to talk about.  He was lost.  He was in that weird in between stage of graduating from college and expecting to be an adult in the workforce…but really…just not having a clue.

One thing that always set Craig and I apart was our belief systems.

He grew up in a family that didn’t practice any kind of faith or even talked about God.

I grew up in a strict Catholic home where God was the center of who were.

When you’re young – at least for me – my faith wasn’t really a big deal.  I went to church every now and then. I still prayed.  But, I didn’t really understand that it’s not about religion…it’s about a relationship with God.

When Craig was in San Diego – it really tested us.  I was getting ready to graduate from college and had to make the next move for my life.  I knew that it was really important that the next phase of my life included relationships where Jesus was an integral part.  And this was just not something Craig understood.

So, on my birthday in 2002, we broke up.

For good.

It was heartwrenching.  I really believed he was the one for me.  But, Craig still was in California and I was in Texas.  I needed to share my life with someone who wanted to know Jesus.  He didn’t really have the desire to know Him.

Months passed.

I continued to pray for Craig.  I prayed that he find his happiness and for him to feel whole.  I knew in my heart that if he would just give Jesus a chance – Craig would stop searching to find his place in the world.

One night – after months of praying for Craig – I just prayed  for God to take it.  I prayed that God direct me and help me to find the person that would lead me and walk with me in my faith.  I finally let go of Craig.

Then the next day…Craig called.

I could hear in his voice a change.  I promised I would be the friend he needed.  He said he would go to the beach and just think about things.  He would say things in his head.

I told him..you were praying.

He didn’t have much to say or know what to say.

He made the decision to move back to Texas.  Move back to Dallas…where I was.

We decided to be friends….I knew he needed me.

Once he came home…something changed.  I saw it in him.  He asked to go to church with me.  He wanted to see “what it was all about.”

Jesus had found His lost sheep. Finally.

Our relationship changed.  We had grown up together.  He became the man I prayed for…and 4 months later he was baptized…and 6 months later…we were married.

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A year later…

It was my turn to feel lost.

I had always wanted to go to medical school.  I think because I knew I could do it and really…what else would I do with my Zoology/Chemistry degree?

After settling in and buying our new house, I applied to medical school and didn’t get in anywhere.  I had a crappy 3.5 GPA and a crappy 24 MCAT score.

I decided to try offshore medical schools and I was accepted to Ross University in Dominica – over 10 hours away.

Craig – seeing how lost I was – knew it was his turn to let me go. So, we sold our house, almost all of our belongings, and I left my best friend and everyone I loved to find out if I was truly meant to be a doctor.

I was super homesick.  But, I did well in school.  But, what I take most from my experience there was how utterly reliant I became on God.  I needed Him.  There was no one that could fill the ache and void of loneliness.  I had to wholly rely on Him to fill my sadness, my heartache.  I became disciplined in prayer, diligent in reading the Word, and experienced a hunger to know Him and my faith in ways I didn’t even realize.

Craig was finding his way as well.  Without me by his side, he had to seek God on his own. He doesn’t see it like I do – but he has transformed into a man of God that not only leads our household but protects us and guides us in our walk with Jesus as a family.  He isn’t perfect but he’s perfect for me.

We developed relationships with God – individually – that strengthened our marriage to a level I didn’t realize it could go.

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Two years later, I came back home to study for my medical boards and start clinical training in the US.

Well…you know….after being apart for months…Craig and I had some – ahem – catching up to do.

And well…surprise!  We were pregnant with Isabelle.

We decided to buy a house close to family in a good neighborhood so we could re-sell it fairly easily for when I returned to school.

High blood pressure and a high risk pregnancy put me on partial bedrest.  I took a leave of absence from school and told them I would return after 5-6 months of leave.

I gave birth…

And Isabelle was perfect.  She changed our lives.  And I couldn’t bring myself to leave her or Craig to finish school. During her first few months, my sister approached me to start a business with her.  We shared a passion for baking…and she thought what a great time to start a bakery…you know..during a recession.

But the gambled paid off – and Zen Baking Company was born.  It’s grown quickly and we’ve found some success…but the road is still long.

I realized after a few short weeks that sometimes purpose doesn’t have to found in a power profession, after a climbing the highest mountain, or traveling the world…sometimes purpose is in the smallest packages – sweet smell of your newborn, seeing a smile for the first time, holding that gift in your arms.  Motherhood – that’s what God created me for.

Our business took off and we decided to move to our own space. As soon as we moved into our new retail space in Dallas…I found out I was pregnant with Baby #2.

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And the rest…is his-story.

We spent last night as a family of 3 – knowing the Evan will make his arrival any day now. Craig and I got teary eyed as we realized our fun dynamic with Iz would be changed forever.  Forget the fact that Evan will need us more and be special – just the mere fact that our time won’t be totally devoted to Iz.  Our time will suddenly be torn in so many directions – everyday life (work, friends, family), Isabelle’s needs, Evan’s needs, endless hours of hospital stays, finding time to connect with each other as husband and wife, finding time as individuals….everything is about to change.

Until the next chapter – where our son will make his arrival.

So now…we wait.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thinking of you dear Czarina and keeping you, your baby Evan, and family in our prayers. You truly have an incredible gift in your writing- thank you for sharing that with so many. Take care of the wonderful YOU and the amazing Hounsel fam~

  2. Shannon Owens Green says:

    Praying for you and your family Czarina. You are a naturally gifted writer btw.