On a warm September day, 21 years ago, I vowed to love my young husband, Joey, as long as I live. I was only 19, but when you know, you know.
I can’t remember the day we met because we were only babies. You see, our mothers met one day in middle school as they stood in line waiting for their names to be called, when they quickly realized they had the same name, Michele (with one “l”). They were friends for life. By the time I was in kindergarten, I had a huge crush on him. He and his family moved away when I was 9 years old but I continued to try and stay in touch by writing him letters. I later found out that my dorky and awkward demeanor put me way out of his league of coolness. I reluctantly moved on with my boy interests.
When I was a senior in high school, my older sister got married and Joey came to the wedding as a family friend. That’s when it all really began. I had outgrown my awkward stage, I suppose. 🙂 We stayed out past midnight that night just talking and walking around the city of Arlington, VA. It was magical; we were smitten with each other, no doubt. Along with the butterflies, excitement, ease and connection that a couple like us had at the time, I think what really got us (and what we realized quite quickly) was that we found someone who really loved Jesus Christ the same. A year or so later, we eventually got to the point where we didn’t want to just date. We only wanted to date someone who we could really see ourselves marrying someday. When we both individually realized that yes, I really do want to marry this person, then we thought, “Why wait?!” Of course, we had to convince my father of that first. 🙂 Since our parents were such good friends, we quickly got their blessing!!
I spent the first year of college dating and engaged and the next 3 years married! I didn’t exactly have a typical college experience, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We lived in a little apartment on campus, had many of the same classes and graduated together!
We’ve since filled up the rest of our lives with three babies, business adventures, plenty of struggle, sacrifice, patience and lots of love. God’s love for us and our love for Him connected us from the beginning, as we grew up together as super young newly weds, and even now as we hit our 40s. I am so very thankful for these last 21 years and I know, with God’s help, He will continue to be our foundation in the years ahead.