To my sweet baby girls,
Tonite I write as one of you is on the brink of entering first grade and the other is on the brink of walking. Both of you at such a lovely place of new discovery, first steps in a new direction, Mommy's little girls growing up and becoming beautiful young ladies. As you continue to grow, day by day, you will reach new opportunities, new challenges, new achievements. I am humbled, honored, blessed to be your mom. I pray every day that I would be a model of Christ's love to you. I know I mess up. And I pray that God would cover my iniquities. You are my heart, and I carry you with me.
Tonite, my dear girls, I want to tell you the story about your daddy. I want you to know what it was like to meet him, fall in love with him, marry him, and grow old with him. One day you will be choosing a husband for yourself. I pray that your decisions are God-pleasing. I pray that you seek His council. Marriage is not a fairy tale. It is a decision. A commitment. A covenant. And it requires patience, forgiveness, compromise, and sacrifice. And every moment of love that comes from it is worth the effort you put into it. Your daddy and I have built a life together. You are here because of it. I want you to understand how and why.
In my life, I have been convinced (quite strongly) that I would marry - three different times. I think every girl has a first love - and some marry that person. I walked away from my first love. And my second. Your daddy came into my life as I struggled through a relationship that, in retrospect, was not very healthy. It certainly would not have led me to the life I live today. Today, I am blessed beyond measure. Perhaps it sounds cliche. God closed one door and led me to another that stood wide open.
I worked my way through high school and college at WalMart. I struggle with my thoughts about whether I think you should work while you are in school. One reason I think you might benefit from working is the friendships you build outside of the classroom. It is stressful to hold down a job, though, as you try to manage your way through class assignments and after school commitments. By working at a local discount store, nevertheless, I earned scholarships that helped finance my education; I developed meaningful friendships; I met your daddy.
I remember seeing him at work. My first impression was that he was 'cute.' He was also a flirt - in my mind's eye, I see him at a distance, always grinning and speaking playfully with one perky cashier or another. The first time we actually spoke was in the middle of a rack of men's clothes. I was headed to the back of the store to see who was not working during one of my shifts so that I could try to switch over some conflicting commitment I had scheduled. He ran into me on his way in the opposite direction, evidently, just having checked the schedule in the back over a similar conflict. He asked me to work for him. I said no, but asked if he would work for me. I think he said no, too. (So chivalrous! *grin*)
The next time we spoke, we were working near each other. Your dad was a big fraternity guy. I had chosen not to "Go Greek." (Finances chose this more than I did. We'll talk about whether you should join a sorority in college another day...). I had dated a fraternity guy before. I enjoyed the friends, the parties, the 'scene.' I don't really know what possessed me to answer Daddy's invitation to his fraternity party later that week the way I did. I was a senior when I met your dad. I was focused on graduating. I was focused on moving closer to my boyfriend (did I mention I was dating that second 'love' at the time?). I was not interested in the 'scene' of dating and mingling at parties any longer. School, work, road trips to see The Boyfriend. When your daddy asked me to come to his fraternity's party that Friday night, I told him I was 'over' that type of thing. "What, are you too cool for it, too old for it - what are you 'over?'"
I went to his party, of course. I can remember making phone calls to friends to come along. I remember deciding what to wear. I remember meeting your Uncle Michael. I walked into the fraternity house and ran smack into Daddy's look-alike. He's convinced I thought he was Daddy. Of course, I knew he wasn't the guy I worked with. But, I did think they took the whole 'brother' thing quite literally in that fraternity. Michael led me to where your daddy was in the house. And Daddy didn't leave my side the rest of the night. I remember sitting outside the house into the wee hours of the night just talking to him. It was nice. He was sweet. A gentleman. The Boyfriend wasn't always such a gentleman. He often acted like a jerk. We were at a point in our relationship where promised phone calls never came. Scheduled visits were canceled. I wasn't looking to end the relationship with The Boyfriend. I wasn't looking for Another Boyfriend. I don't think I had much to do with meeting your daddy and hitting it off with him at the party. I truly think it was divine. Here's why.
Daddy and I went to college with about 6,000 other students. We were both biology majors until our Junior year. I had never met him or even seen him before working together at the beginning of our senior year. After that first night at the party, I ran into your dad literally everywhere on campus. To this day (14 years after we met), he truly believes I planned those chance meetings. Girls, we saw each other on campus, at the library, gasing up our cars. That's where I see God. He guided us or opened our eyes to see each other finally or both. And the night Daddy and I went on our first real date, he only had one date before mine and one the next morning. But he swears he never saw those girls again. From that moment on, he only had eyes for me.
To be continued...