Hey, I'm Madi Nelson! | Get To Know Me
Hey! Welcome to my new blog!!! I am so excited for this new little space (thank you so much to my amazing and talented friend Austin at Trek Your Market for making all of my web design dreams come true!!) + to get back into the swing of things on here. I thought I'd start by sharing a little bit more about who I am, how David and I met, and how we got to where we are today - because many of you just started following our journey and have no idea! So here we go-
I am 27 (soon to be 28, yikes!) years old and born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I grew up with two incredible + loving parents, they've been married for 31 years, and my older brother, Jordan. Yes, my brother is single. My family is everything to me and always has been. As kid I loved art, playing school, shopping at Marshall's, and loved to dress my dolls in Baby Gap clothes and even fed them real baby food out of the jar. It's safe to say I've wanted to be a mommy since I could walk. I went to the same school, Charlotte Latin School, from Kindergarten to graduation and spent most of my high school years babysitting or hanging out with 6 kids from the inner city who I grew to love. By the time I got my license I was driving to the other side of town everyday after school to pick up my 'little buddies' (I met them at an after school program through church)... they spent weekends with me at my parents' house, learning how to swim or doing homework... they were a huge part of why I met my husband, now that I actually think about it. My junior year of high school I went on a mission trip to Brazil and that's when my heart really changed. These were all really small moments that made all of the difference in the BIG PICTURE.
After high school, I went to College of Charleston to study art and psychology. I thought that I wanted to be an art therapist and help children through my love of art. Spring Break of my sophomore year, I was at home in Charlotte when my mom forced me to write a letter to a family telling them that I was looking for a nannying job for the summer. I wrote a hand written letter and sent it in the mail with my resume (Lord knows what that resume of 20 year old me said!?!?)... I figured this envelope would get sent straight to the trash but it turned out to be the best letter I ever wrote!
A month later, I got the job and was on a private plane with three little girls headed to spend my summer in California as their nanny.
It was my first time ever being that far from my family and the first week I was there was terrifying... I didn't think I'd last 10 days! I ended up working for this family for more than five years and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The mom was an actress and the dad a retired football player (how ironic is that?), so I was a bi-coastal nanny living in California for part of the year, and North Carolina the other. We also spent time in Dallas because it was the half way point... I never in a million years thought I would end up living here!
On one of my days off from nannying in California I was riding my bike to Whole Foods. There is an overwhelming amount of homeless people all over the streets of Los Angeles, especially Santa Monica where my apartment was... and this weighed heavily on my heart. I got to know a few of them, but this particular lady, Cher, really made a great impression on my heart. She was sitting outside of Whole Foods and I started talking to her as I was locking up my bike. I invited her in to get some dinner, we made our plates, and then we went back outside to finish our conversation...
she kept telling me that this place isn't her home and that she would only call Heaven home.
She didn't mind that she was homeless because she knew this wasn't her home!! I remember riding my bike back to my apartment that night with tears in my eyes because... WOW... she just changed my perspective on life.
I looked for her everyday for the rest of my time in California and never saw her again. To this day I know that God put that angel in my path for a reason... a few days after I met Cher, I was on a run (I guess I used to run????) and stumbled across this loooooooong line of people. They were all homeless... families, elderly, children, ALL ages were lined up. I walked to the front of the line where there was this long table of hot food and about 6 people serving. I ended up getting to know the lady who started it, Sue (you can read more about Sue and how she impacted me here). She invited me to church with her the following weekend. That Sunday, God said to me in church "I want you to quit your job and move to Haiti"... it was so specific. I was like UH WHAT? It was the first time I ever actually heard God tell me to REALLY do something.
A few weeks later I was back in Charlotte, NC and I remember sitting outside, crying to my mom about this new thing God had put on my heart. I was thinking.... there is no way I can quit my job, what am I going to do without these girls in my life (I adored them and couldn't imagine leaving them). I had just signed a year long lease with my best friend and was finally moving out of my parents' house. I saved almost all of my money while nannying and living at home so I was financially prepared to leave my job and move my life to Haiti... I started applying to different organizations and one by one I was turned down. I even had a week long trip planned to stay with a missionary family, in hopes of living with them for the summer to serve and also nanny. That trip got cancelled last minute and I was devastated. I spent an entire year wondering why God would tell me to do this if He wasn't going to make it happen. I really started to question whether or not I actually heard His voice.
During that year of waiting, I was set up on a blind date by a friend. It wasn't even a date because my best friend came with me... I remember on the night that we met, I said "I plan on moving to Haiti within the next few months"... so that he was aware I wasn't looking for anything serious. This is where everything started to get a little tricky... Unfortunately, I didn't listen to my gut and our relationship became more serious after a few short months. During those months, I was stilll asking God to open the Haiti door and I applied to volunteer at the organization David (my now husband) founded there. David ended up emailing me back, and we got the ball rolling for me to spend the summer volunteering for his organization.
My heart was as happy as I ever remember it being (until my son was born) and I put my job on hold, packed my bags and moved to Haiti for the summer. I was so excited and God moved in ways I had never experienced before. Everyday was something new, a new miracle.. I saw Jesus' face in EVERYTHING. And it was SO COOL. I remember feeling this strong urge that I needed to choose between this guy that I was dating at the time and Haiti. Deep down in my heart I knew that he was not the one for me, we had broken up several times during those months of dating and there were many signs that it wasn't right.
During that summer, David was back and forth between the States and Haiti. He was still playing football so he could only come a week or two at a time. One week, my mom and his mom both ironically planned a trip to visit at the same time... David and I had become friends, but it was 100% platonic and he avoided me for the most part (I like to think it was because I had a boyfriend and he was secretly in love with me, hahahaha.). The week that our moms were there, they became buddies and were apparently secretly elbowing each other thinking that David and I would be a perfect match. I remember one day we were riding in the truck together with our moms, David was driving... we were laughing at each other's jokes, singing the same songs, we just got each other. My mom even went as far as asking him to describe his 'dream girl' that he wanted to marry one day (she has no shame in her game) - turns out, that girl he described was me to a T. But neither of us ever even allowed our minds to go there! Even though deep down, he was everything I hoped and prayed for in the man that I dreamt of one day marrying. Ladies, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!!! It's telling you something for a reason!!!!
And this is really when things took a turn for the worse. About a week after my mom left, I was talking to my girlfriend on our bunkbeds one night, sharing my heart about how God was telling me I needed to make a decision -it was time to choose between Haiti or the boyfriend because I couldn't have both- and I needed to make it now. I knew what that decision was, because I had never felt like I was HOME the way I did while I was in Haiti... and I knew I needed to make the decision to stay. Ironically (God really has a sense of humor and He REALLY likes to give us our free will to make big decisions on our own), the next day this guy flew to Haiti to surprise me and he proposed. In Haiti.
So, here I was. This huge question was waiting to be answered and all of the pressure was on me. I was confused, I was overwhelmed, and I honestly felt like I had no other option but to say Yes. This is what's so sad about social media, because to the world I looked as if I was so excited but on the inside I was hurting deeply. I knew that this wasn't the right decision, I knew that I was supposed to stay in Haiti and I really knew that this guy was NOT the one for me. My mom always told me that I would know and there would be no doubts, well... there were a lot of doubts. But, I moved back to the states, picked up my nannying job where I left off, and I was engaged to someone I had no business marrying. I felt depressed and confused, but I thought it was because I missed Haiti so much. A lot happened in the next couple of months (we never set a date or discussed getting married... which was a major sign) and I ended up taking a huge leap of faith and calling off the engagement.
I dug myself into a hole and listened to all of the lies the enemy was speaking over me (you can read more about that time here and the how I dealt with the heartbreak here) for too long. I really started to question God and why He allowed this to happen. Well, it turns out it wasn't Him who made it happen but me. I made the decision even though I knew deep down in my soul that God was telling me something completely different. It took me a little while to get out of that hole, and it wasn't until I went back to Haiti for 'GOOD' that I felt completely whole again.
And that's where David comes into the picture! He had been injured while playing football that season and a lot was happening in his life, so we were both in Haiti for an extended amount of time together... we spent nights on the roof under the stars talking about life, heartbreak, our dreams.. we spent a lot of time laughing and watching funny videos on YouTube. I watched him with the kids, I watched him lead teams, and I watched him living out his passion. It was really cool to be walking through a village full of people and children and see both of us come alive: it was exactly where we were supposed to be. We were just friends until one day we weren't- we awkwardly touched hands. It was like we were ten years old again. I felt sparks and I know he did, too!
Then all of a sudden we were on the roof talking about what it looked like for us to start dating. I had just allowed my heart to heal after a terrible break up and still felt like "the engaged girl" and David had his own past as well... but I honestly didn't care. God knew that he was the one I was going to marry long before I let myself believe it. It is crazy to see all of the things that had to happen in each of our lives in order for us to ever meet, let alone fall in love.
The only reason that I share that part about being previously engaged (it's definitely not something from my past that I bring up a lot) is because I get so many messages from girls who are in relationships that see David and I together and question their relationship or ask for advice... And I want every girl in the world to know that they never ever have to settle. If there are doubts in your heart telling you to not be with the one you're with, you most likely should NOT be with them. God gave each and every one of us a gift of discernment. Listen to that voice. I want every girl to "hear the bells" as my mother and grandmother (both still happily married to their til-death-do-us-part husbands)... and if you don't hear the bells, what are you wasting your time on! I want ever girl to know that it is OKAY to be alone while waiting for the one. Instead of spending time in the wrong relationships, spend that time doing the things that YOU love most. Write, create, serve, go for a run, spend time with your family... I don't know. Just make the most of your alone time while you can!
God knows your heart better than you do, He wants to give you ALL of the desires of your heart... not just some. So please, don't settle for anything but CRAZY, MADLY, OBSESSED WITH EACH OTHER, NOT PERFECT BUT NOTHING IS PERFECT, FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER kind of love.
Wow, sorry for that rant! But you have to hear it from someone!!
A few months after David and I started dating, my dad was diagnosed for the second time with stage 4 jaw cancer that had spread from his throat (you can read more about how I dealt with that here and here) and I left Haiti, moved back home, and then eventually to Dallas with David. David retired from football and, sadly, we stepped away from his organization due to irreconcilable differences. It was something that we struggled greatly with but we thankfully have been able to be involved with other organizations in Haiti that are close to our hearts. We traveled around the world (#roadlesstravelled) and were both trying to decide what the next chapter of our book looked like. David proposed (with Winnie) in January 2017, we got married June 9, 2017 (#herecomethenelsons), spent the next two months traveling and trying for baby #1... and by August we found out we were pregnant! We welcomed our beautiful son into the world on April 18, 2018 (read Easton's birth story here).
I started this blog as a space for me to share our journey and my thoughts... it turned in to something so much greater and I have loved being able to share our life, all of my fashion and bargain shopping tips, and all of the BIG moments with you guys. It has become a place of refuge for me and I have learned so much from each and every one of you who encourage us daily.
Although social media portrays the highlights of our life, nobody's life is perfect... we have our differences and our struggles just like everyone else. We grew A LOT in our first year of marriage... we are still growing and learning to communicate everyday, especially adding a newborn to the mix! But life is honestly as perfect as I can imagine it being. Sometimes we love each other and want to kill each other in the same day, but a day never goes by without our home being full of laughter and that is what makes our marriage so beautiful.