Our Story, the Abridged version

Chad was born in San Antonio, Texas, a long time ago.  I don’t want to put a year here because he doesn’t look his age, and I don’t want all of you contacting me about his beauty treatments or his skin care regime.  He is one of those people that truly looks about 10 years younger than his age... although I have noticed that I seem to be aging him?!

Chad has incredible parents, Dale and Barbara, who are still married.  They recently renewed their vows.  He is the youngest of 3 boys.  Chad also has two nephews, Steven and Zachary, and a sister-in-law, Carrie. All of his family still lives in Texas.



Chad was/ is an incredible soccer player.  He played throughout high school and college, and still likes to kick the ball around today.  He graduated from Texas Lutheran College (now University) with a degree in Communications, and much to his mother’s dismay, he packed his bags and moved to Florida upon graduation.  He did NOT have a job or anything close to one, he just wanted to live in Florida.



His first job with his college degree was a recreational director at Disney World (aka a lifeguard).  But in typical Chad form, he worked his way up and found himself working as a corporate trainer for Disney.  While he was working there, Chad got a phone call that no one wants to get- his middle brother, Todd, had been killed instantly in a tragic car accident.  Although, this just numbed Chad at the time and for several months to come, it has since led to further development in him as a person, husband, father, son, and brother.  When something like this happens, and rocks your world and your “normal” to such a degree, all of sudden, certain things are going move up and down your priority list, accordingly.



As for Disney, Chad loved it- he still loves Disney, and the Disney “way”—how the employees act, the service, the cleanliness- we even went there on our honeymoon!



But it also did 2 other things that make this story possible:

#1.  He met a man who took him to an event where Chad heard, like really heard, the Gospel for the first time.  Right then and there, he accepted The Lord as his personal savior and it changed his life forever.

#2.  He met a guy, who eventually got him a job that would eventually lead him to Kennesaw, GA.

You’d think this is where I’d come in, but it wasn’t that simple.

Once Chad got to Kennesaw, he started attending First Baptist Church, Woodstock, where he met Angela.  They got married in 2001 and Gabriel Todd Bowman (Gabe) was born on February 14, 2003.  Since Chad is now my husband, it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t a “happily ever after”.  Of course there is a story- but the gist is that divorce sucks. And while there are 2 people involved, with 2 separate sides of the story, the commonality is that 2 hearts get broken, 2 lives take an unexpected turn for the worst, and in this case, they still share a son, Gabe.



God intends for marriage to be forever- and when that isn’t the case, there is a mess.  And we are by no means an exception to this rule.  But we all work really hard to make lemonade out of these lemons. Angela has since remarried, too, to Shawn, and we all work to raise our son to be the man God intended him to be.

I know this is weird- we get funny looks all the time- but we purposefully sit beside each other at soccer games, we save each other seats at school functions, we throw parties together, and always share stories about Gabe.   If you would’ve told me a couple years ago that this is how it was going to be, I would’ve laughed- but God is good and He's in the business of turning ashes into beauty. Our houses are about 8 miles a part, and at anytime, Gabe is welcomed at both places, and loved by all 4 families.  And let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t benefit from 4 sets of grandparents?



Ok, now on with Chad’s story.  He is an incredible networker and that kind of person you would want working for you and with you.  He is a people person, a very hard worker, and loves serving.  But after several years in an office, with a desk, he decided he just couldn’t take it.  So he started his own company, Kennesaw Painting, Inc. in 2003.  And after moving from Kennesaw to Woodstock, he changed the company’s name to Lonestar Painting, Inc.  The business really suits him because he gets to work with people, he gets to network, there is a definite need to be hard working, he can see results as he works, he is his own boss, and he never has to sit at a desk!  His company is growing faster than we can manage at this point, and it requires a lot of work on his part.  But we all have a roof over our head and very fully bellies, so there’s not much we can complain about.  And if you’re one of the people who wonders if you saw Chad on HGTV, you DID!  I live with a movie star and you can have an autograph for $20.

After hurricane Katrina hit, and wiped out parts of New Orleans, Chad put his business on hold and headed south for clean up duty.  If we’re honest, he was running from life, momentarily, but it really suited him and it was an incredible experience for him.  He still tells stories about it, and he took me down there once when we were dating.  It wasn’t a big huge chunk of his life or anything, but I think it defined him and shaped him-- he has eyes for people and hurt and tragedy and loss.

Ok, now I’m going to talk about me for a bit. 

I was born in Atlanta, GA and moved to North Carolina when I was 2.  Needless to say, I don’t remember my first GA residency.  I am the oldest of 3-- I have 2 brothers, Sam and Eli.  My parents are awesome too, and they are still married as well.  My parents and middle brother live in Indiana now. Eli is still in Georgia with me- literally with me, and takes care of my kids a couple days a week while I work part time. He also is preparing for his LSAT.



When I was wrapping up 5th grade, my Dad was in the midst of moving us south.  The second to last day of school, my mom picked us up and we drove to the King and Queen buildings in Atlanta, GA so they could close on the house.  I was beyond my years and already had the (bad) attitude of a teenager and decided that I did not want to live in GA and I would make sure everyone that came in contact with me knew it.  It was the summer of 1996, aka the Summer Olympics in Atlanta- so the world was coming to Atlanta, and I was taking every opportunity to leave!



For my entire middle school and high school career, we lived in the same house in Cumming, GA.  This was the first time we had ever lived in a house for an extended period of time- and that’s the house I would call “the one I grew up in”.  God blessed me with a good brain, I loved school and did well, I was a cheerleader and had lots of great friends.  There wasn’t much about life that I could complain about- but I was a teenager, so I’m sure I found plenty, although I don’t remember it now.

I graduated high school in 2002 and head off to the University of Georgia in the fall.  I majored in Speech Communications and Public Relations, worked at a day care, really plugged into Campus Outreach, and had incredible friends.  God used this time to shape my life a lot- I had the opportunity to figure out who I was, what I believed, and what I was going to do about it.  I had been raised in the church my entire life and knew the Lord and even knew my need for Him, but it was these wonderful college years that allowed me to make it my own.

I graduated college in 3 years.  Everyone told me to slow down, that I was rushing, but I wouldn’t listen.  I had better things to do—I just wasn’t sure what!  And back to the brain thing, God really blessed me, so school was easy, taking lots of classes was no stress for me, and I still had time for a great social life.  But it is funny, because now when I visit Athens, I long to be back in college again.  Ha!  What my Dad said is true:  College is maximum freedom and minimum responsibility.  Why did I wish that away?



Shortly after college I began dating a guy and it turned serious pretty quickly.  By November we were engaged and had our wedding set for May.  But God had other plans.  He used a series of circumstances to cause me to call off the wedding and put the relationship on hold.  Within a matter of weeks, life as I knew had come to a hault, the relationship dissolved, and I was left with a very broken heart, a wedding to undo, and a big mess to clean up.  In the midst of it, I couldn’t see straight.  It led to a very great dependence on the Lord.  But looking back, I now see that it was much more than a break-up—I was grieving the loss of a person that never really existed.  It had all been a façade- and the joke was on me.

In the midst of this relationship, I took at job at a church, North Metro Church in Marietta, GA, and started working with the student ministry: Sublime.  I had interned a Buckhead Church while in college, and been a part of many incredible ministries at different stages in my life, but it was NEVER my plan to work at a church.  But although it wasn’t in my “plan” and it didn’t go as “planned,” I am the first to admit that God’s plans are always for the best, and my 3 years there were a Godsend.  It’s another one of those things that I couldn’t see when I was in it, but now looking back I see that God set it up as incredible bookends to a not-so-fun stage of my life.  Here’s the gist:  I come in while I was engaged and begin working with several great guys- the wedding falls through, I fall apart and they walk it out with me.  And I do mean every angry, tearful, pitiful, painful step.  We all used to say we were family.  It was a fun way to work, play, and do life. Then they walked through the dating process with me and were very protective- admittedly annoyingly so. And then that job came to an end just days before I married Chad, as if God was saying he was done with that chapter of my life, and we were moving onto the next.

I would define those 3 years with one word: relationships.  People were my life- mostly younger people, but people none-the-less.  I used to joke that I was always on the clock when I worked at the church, namely because students can’t tell time and they think anytime is a good time to call/text/email/ show up!  It was an adventure.  But I have a huge love for students and I have a huge passion for the creator of the universe, so it was incredible to get to do both of those things for a living!  When I hear someone between the ages of 12-18 start talking about God and their story and what He is doing in the lives, it will be a matter of seconds before I’m crying happy tears because it just excites me that stinkin much.

One night at Sublime, we had a guest speaker- Christopher Coleman. He showed up with his assistant who just happened to have a little blue-eyed boy with blonde poofy curls.  I was instantly in love with the child.  I know his Dad, aka the “assistant” was there too, but I didn’t really notice him.



Christopher used some of the church’s office space, so after that night he began prodding me everyday at the office about the boy’s Dad.  I wanted nothing to do with men- I wasn’t ready, and I was actually pretty content with life at the moment.  Christopher was hounding “the assistant” at the same time too, but due to a recent heartbreak of his own, he wasn’t interested either.  But Christopher, being one of the most stubborn people I know, didn’t give up, and eventually we both said yes- mainly to shut him up.  And now, the assistant, who was really just a good friend filling in and driving his friend to an event is my husband. The poof ball is my step son, and Christopher is affectionately known at our house as “Uncle Chris”.

After the initial set up, things moved very slow for Chad and I.  We were “just friends” who did everything together for months.  We spent many nights “watching” every movie TBS played- in sequence- and then would both go to work the next day.  It really is amazing the hours you keep when you’re in “love”- not the either of us would admit such things, though, because clearly we were “just friends”.  I remember one night taking him to an event with Sublime and he referred to me as his girlfriend and called me “babe” in front of everyone.  Most girls would love that, but I chewed him out when we got in the car instead.  (Somehow in my mind, if there was a title it would hurt more if it didn’t work out.)



The next part of the story is my favorite, but Chad doesn’t really like it, so I’ll keep it to a minimum:  Basically we dated seriously for about a year, then I was ready for the next step, aka marriage, while he was still “not sure” yadda yadda yadda—keep in mind he was sure about me, he just wasn’t sure about marriage.  Well that was a deal breaker for me, so I broke up with him.  He called the next day to make sure we could still be friends and I told him no, we could not be friends.  He then called me the next day to tell me that he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  Done!

(Note: For anyone hoping to tie the knot with your current boo, I do NOT suggest this tactic unless you are absolutely willing to walk away from the relationship forever.  Due to the past broken relationship, I was absolutely sure of what I wanted and if this man couldn’t do that, I would move on and let God heal my heart and bring the right man into my life.  My hands were open and I fully expected to not talk to Chad again)

Chad and I got married on my parent's 26th anniversary: June 26th, 2008.  And it's at this point that we lost the his and hers and got "ours".  So now, our story (thus far):



We then had great plans-- we were going to live in an apartment and work hard for 3 years and then buy a house and have babies.  It was going to be perfect and wonderful- and we were so in love that it was going to be fun, too.  But God had different plans!  (Imagine that.... there seems to be a theme going on here...)  After about a month of being married and having crazy mean outbursts every morning, I found out that the birth control I was taking was making my hormones all whacky.  So they did another test and although I thought we were dealing with a small problem, actually found out that I have "High FSH".  If you're female, and you get a call from a doctor about stuff you don't understand and they want to book an appointment to discuss it, don't, I repeat, DO NOT google it.  I know this from experience:  high FSH means no kids because you're eggs are running out.  So at 25 years old, I was running out of eggs and if we wanted kids, we needed to try right away- but there was no guarantee.

One word: crushing.  My life's dream was to be a wife and a mom and hearing these words devastated me.  I was full of what-if's and why me's and what did I do to deserve this. But I have my laid back, go with the flow, don't make mountains out of mole hills husband to balance me out- God knew what he was doing with this set-up- and his attitude was why not me? So we got a few things in order, pulled the goalie and found out we were expecting immediately.  Mid-way through the pregnancy we bought a house, and we moved over the Cobb County border into Woodstock, GA.

The pregnancy was rough-- I had any time of the day sickness for the first 12 weeks, then at 13 weeks I got a tailbone cyst that was crippling due to pain, but I couldn't have pain medicine because of  my little bean.  I had to have a horrifying procedure, again, without pain meds, and moved into the second trimester.  Then we moved, and I'm anal and type A and organized, so I had to do everything- including mopping all the hardwoods (our entire downstairs) on my hands on knees while 6 months pregnant.  It took me several weeks to recover from that.  I was so tired I went to bed at 8pm every night for most of the 40 weeks, I was very swollen- especially once I made it to August, I gained almost 40 lbs, and with 2 months to go, I got carpal tunnel in both hands and couldn't pick up a carton of milk or unload the dishwasher.



In the midst of growing a child, I read every book I could get my hands on about pregnancy, child birth, taking care of a baby, and parenting.  (Ok, I still do that now, even though I'm not pregnant!)  I decided that natural child birth (as in no drugs, epidural, etc) was the way to go and Chad and I took a 9 week birthing class.  I knew everything from the stages of labor to the birthing process, we found an incredible midwife and hired a great doula.  Again, plans set, we were ready. Everything went smoothly....



Bahahahaa!  That never happens in this story!

The baby was due on August 15th, I went into labor on August 17th, and 55 horrible hours later, Max was born on August 19, 2009. With drugs.  The opposite of all my plans.  The short version:  He was sunny side up so my labor never formed a pattern- meaning I was in labor with contractions 5 minutes a part and less- sometimes down to 1 or 2-- then it would go back to 5 minutes apart.  And they were hard, mean contractions, and I was so sleep deprived that in the wee hours of the morning on August 19th, when my midwife said it would be at least 5 more hours of hard labor before it was time to push, I quit and begged for the epidural that I was dead set not to get.  I slept like a baby until 8am, woke up, told the doc it was time, and was holding our little man at 8:41am.  AND low and behold, the child turn on the way out, and came out face down, just like he's supposed to.  He just wanted to make sure I was really committed to him.  And obviously, I am!



It has since come out that I probably don't have high FSH and therefore have plenty of eggs and all this other nonsense about how I'm fine, and there is no crisis.  But we have our Max already!  And he's perfect and we love it :)

Before we knew it, Max was running around laughing and talking up a storm... and making quite a mess I might add!  But things were too calm on the Bowman home front, so we decided to add another one to the team... a boy of course!  After a very easy pregnancy, one that makes normally sane people wish for 10 more kids, Jack Henry arrived.... 5 weeks early!!!!  I was awakened one normal Saturday morning to my water breaking-- not even in the month he was due to arrive-- and within 14 hours, we were holding and loving our little guy.



It's funny, because these plans actually ended up being the perfect and wonderful and fun plans, instead!  But let's be honest- God is just that good and He is just that big- and who better to be in control than the Sovereign Creator of the Universe who promised to work everything to the good for those who love Him- the same God that gave his only sinless Son for our lives and our sins, so that we may spend eternity with him?  If that ain't love, then I don't know what is!  Life is crazy, and our plans don't work out, and "It's always something" seems to be common words around our house, but there is not one crazy detail that didn't shape us and mold us and get us right to where we are today.  And when our world seems to fall apart, we're with the guy who rose from the dead!

This is NOT the end!  But we are happily ever after.

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