Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fourteen years

Fourteen years ago this morning, I was at my parents' house in Beaumont, Texas. I was sleeping off the previous night's festivities and my mom was getting ready for the brunch we were hosting at our house. After the brunch, we ran some errands, I got my hair done, we ran more errands, then went to the church. That evening, I married my best friend.

That was a good day. We've had many good days since then. I've always believed your wedding day should not be the happiest day of your life, because then it's only downhill from there. You want the days to only get better and better. And for us, it has. I think we like each other more than we did in 1993. Maturity helps a lot with that. And I've been able to discover what a great father Chad is. And what a passion he has for ministry. One of the cool things about getting married is that you keep finding new things to love about your spouse over the years.

Just for fun - if you were at our wedding, post a comment! (Of course you can post if you weren't there, too.)

A couple of years ago, I wrote the story of Chad and me. Here it is:

I met Chad in the Bean at ACU one day at lunch. I was with a big group of people and we were sitting at a large round table. Chad was the only person I didn’t know and we ended up sitting right next to each other. He was from Alaska, he said.

Chad was a freshman, and I was a sophomore. He was kinda cute – all my friends said so – and he seemed like a nice guy. We tried to date for a couple of weeks, but it just wasn’t working for me. I was trying to take a break from dating. I had made several bad dating choices in a row and had decided to give that part of my life up to God, since I had made such a mess of it. I promised God I wouldn’t date anyone seriously for a year.

Plus Chad got on my nerves.

He was so nice. Really, he was. But he seemed to be trying too hard. I started avoiding him.

A school year went by. Then a summer. Then school started again. And there was Chad. Would I like to go out Friday night? Sure. OK.

I remember sitting on the couch with my roommate. “Aren’t you going to get ready for your date?” she asked. “It’s just Chad,” I replied.

Then we went out. We had a great time. I liked being with him. He smelled good. So we kept going out. We kissed. His arms felt good around me. They felt right around me.

“You know what I was thinking?” I said one night after we had been dating about three weeks. “I was thinking that I don’t want to date anyone but you.”

And that was it. We were a couple.

That year was fun. I was dating Chad, living with two of my best friends and working as a reporter for the campus newspaper. He came home with me for Thanksgiving and spring break. We had fun together. We kissed. A lot.

We had to be apart for that summer, while he went home to Alaska to work. In August, I flew up there to see the sights and hang out with Chad and his family for a couple of weeks. Chad, his sister Gina and I were all supposed to come back to Abilene together.

But then the unthinkable happened. While I was in Alaska, Chad’s sister Gina was in a car accident. I was standing in Chad’s parents’ kitchen when they got the call from the highway department. She was in ICU for two days before she died. What a nightmare. My head still gets swimmy when I think about those awful days. Did all of it really happen? Of course it did, but it’s still so hard to fathom. She was 19. She and Chad were only 11 months apart.

We went back to school without Gina – shattered over the loss that was too great for Chad to even talk to me about. It’s hard for me to write about this time because I don’t remember much. My brain has shut it out. I do remember crying in the shower every morning for months.

Then something happy happened. We got engaged. It was a relief to have a wedding to focus on instead of our grief. We got married on Aug. 14, 1993.

That was 12 years ago. A major career change, two kids and three miscarriages later, we’re still here. Chad is my best friend – the “other side of me,” as Michael W. Smith sings. He knows what I need when I’m too proud to voice it. He knows when I need a break from the kids. He washes dishes. He changes diapers. One morning, when Chad had gotten up early and our oldest daughter Julia had climbed into bed with me, I heard Chad in the next room, having his morning quiet time and whispering an earnest prayer. For me. How loved and protected I felt, hearing a great man of God lift me up in prayer.

Marriage isn’t always fun, they tell you in premarital counseling. And it’s true. One of the worst moments of my life was when Chad was holding me in our bathroom three years ago. I was losing our second child and it hurt – physically, emotionally – it was excruciating. But Chad was there, his arms still so strong around me.

The good times in a marriage are fun and make good memories. But the hard times are the ones that really solidify your relationship. That’s when those vows really mean something. It’s when you have the chance to truly cherish each other.

I’ve been asked when I knew I was in love with Chad. I’m not really sure. Love changes and deepens over the years until you’re not sure what “love” really meant when you said it early in your relationship. But I do have one memory. We weren’t really dating yet, but I was aware that Chad was not getting on my nerves anymore. I had to help with newspaper distribution after Chapel one day, but rushed back into the coliseum because I wanted to find Chad. He wasn’t there. I was so disappointed that it surprised me. I stood there, in the emptying coliseum, suddenly shockingly aware that if I kept running away from this guy, I could lose him forever. That’s when I knew that I always wanted him to be there.

And he is. And we still kiss. A lot.

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  • At Tue Aug 14, 08:03:00 AM, Blogger Brock Paulk said…

    Happy Anniversary, Nalls! Y'all are a great example to us in marriage and ministry. Glad to have you as friends. Sorry we've missed our opportunities to meet up lately...

  • At Tue Aug 14, 08:31:00 AM, Blogger TCS_Architect said…

    Happy Anniversary!

  • At Tue Aug 14, 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Jacinda said…

    I wasn't there, but Chris was. I'll have him post a comment later. I believe the words "Sunrise, Sunset" came out of his mouth while there, too!

  • At Tue Aug 14, 03:37:00 PM, Blogger Winston said…

    Oh my goodness ... you made your old daddy cry ... not just at the wedding when you two said your beautiful vows but just now as I read your account of things.
    I will forever be grateful that you and Chad found each other ... God knew before any of us did ... How beautiful life is when we follow where God leads ...

  • At Wed Aug 15, 07:13:00 AM, Blogger LET said…

    Hi Deana,
    I haven't left a comment before, but I've been enjoying your blog for a couple of months now. Happy Anniversary! My husband and I were married the same day you were.

  • At Wed Aug 15, 02:46:00 PM, Blogger ~ Stephanie. said…

    That's one of the sweetest blog entries I've ever read. Don't take your marriage for granted, not even for a second - what a blessing you must be to each other. Thanks for your blog - I'm a voyeur from time to time!

  • At Thu Aug 16, 04:40:00 AM, Blogger Blogging by Tina said…

    Happy anniversary!

    OUR 14th anniversary will be in October of this year. Not only did we have a child in the same year, we also got married in the same year.

  • At Mon Aug 20, 04:49:00 PM, Blogger Jacinda said…

    Nevermind. I think Chris said it was Jason Hosch's wedding where Scott ended up singing "Sunrise, Sunset."


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