Friday, February 21, 2014

Real Life Love Stories | Danny and Christina

Christina has been a sweet friend for quite some time now. She is my friend Victoria's BCF (best cousin friend) and my Uncle Johnny and Aunt Elsa's niece on Uncle Johnny's side of the family- which for all intents and purposes relates us.

Christina is in the process of living out her own real life love story right now as she and Danny make their preparations to head down the aisle in July.

Here is their sweet story....

1. When and/or how did you meet? 

Danny and I met at our church at the end of 2006. I had just finished two years at the local community college and was going to be leaving the first week of January to head to Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL to begin my social work degree for the final three years of college. 

His parents had been attending my church for a few months, and I became very close to them. Because they were Puerto Rican like me, we immediately had a connection, and my sisters and I used to call them "Tio Rafy and Titi Ruthie." Everytime we would see each other, Rafy (I call him Papito now) would tell me that he wanted me to meet his youngest son Danny. 

Months went by and he never came to church; the Lord was working on his heart. One Sunday morning, Papito called me into the fellowship room and introduced to me to his son. This young man whom I had heard so much about hardly said anything to me but shook my hand politely. 

For me, it wasn't love at first sight. Although I definitely thought he was very attractive, I was mostly intrigued by him. 

Because the Lord was in the process of working on his heart, Danny was very cautious and reserved. Danny told me years later that he thought to himself when I walked in the room, "Dad, you have got to introduce me to THAT girl." 

We found out that we went to the same community college and that night, he called me to ask me a "school related question." The rest is history!  

2. How did you know he was the one? 

Pondering over the years of our friendship and dating, I have been thinking of whether there was a moment in time that I thought he was my one and only. For me, it was a process of knowing I think.....mostly the realization that I did not want to live my life without him. 

We both had moments when we tried to live without each other through other relationships...and I think I can speak for the both of us, the love we had for one another never died. It just became stronger, and I couldn't forget about him. It was like the Lord was working things out in the background and it wasn't until years later, the picture began to be clear. For me, love came very softly. 

Three weeks after we met, Danny took a trip down to Florida to see me at school. I was very cautious but also very flattered. I had just come down to school and was missing my family and friends back home. It was a very hard adjustment for me. When he visited me, it was like bringing a little piece of home to me, and I felt refreshed and comfortable. Even though I didn't know him at all, there was something about him that just drew me in, and I couldn't help but fall in love with him..moment by moment. 

It was in the little things he did for me over the next three years while we were "friends": the nights we would stay up talking on the phone even though I had chapel and class the next day, the scrabble online games we would play together, and the pictures he would send me of my friends back home so I could feel apart of the activities they were doing. 

I remember the week he came down to visit me, my childhood cat had passed away suddenly, and I was deeply grieved. To help ease my sadness, he brought me a "purring" cat that we named together, and we still have it to this day. 

Danny has always told me that he is a man of actions...not just words... and his love for me has not wavered since that first day he met me. Even when were not dating, I used to use Danny as the standard for how I should be treated and loved. That is how big of an impact this man had on my life. That is what has brought us through many hard times even in our friendship and dating relationship...and what will be our anchor in our marriage. Who the Lord has brought together, no one can tear apart. 

3. How long have you dated? 

We started dating a week before I graduated...April 2009! He and his family drove all through the night to make sure they attended my graduation. I remember being so honored and happy to have them there. We have been going strong ever since that day... it has not always been easy, but the blessing in all those years without each other was that we realized what it would be like if we didn't fight for our relationship. We never want to go down that road again, so we rely on the Lord every day to honor each other and build our soon to be marriage. 

4. How did he propose? 

Danny told me that he had intended to propose at Christmas this past December, but since we literally had over ten people I knew get engaged around the same time, he waited until January 4th. We had been talking about getting married for about 2months and had even made some plans. He knew I would be too overwhelmed if I waited for everything until after the engagement. So I had my suspicions it would be soon. 

We had always talked about going to the Cabernet in Alpharetta, GA ever since we found out a gentleman from our church was the head chef there, but never had the money for such a splurge. So, when our pastor and his wife suggested that we all go there on a Saturday night, I was a little suspicious. 

I like to solve mysteries..always have. I loved reading Nancy Drew growing up and playing mystery games were my favorite. Danny said it was a challenge for him to keep the proposal a secret. 

Up until we walked into the building, I thought that maybe it was going to be that night...but when the waiter asked if we were the Dustin Pennington party (our pastor), I knew that Danny wouldn't propose to me in front of other people. He would want it to be more intimate. 

Well, guess what...they never came! Danny gave the ring to our friend Richard Holley- the chef at the Cabernet and he placed it in a beautiful saucer with tomatoes shaped like roses as the garnish. 

Danny knows me so well that he proposed before dinner so that way, I wouldn't start asking questions about where our friends were. He even went as far as to switch my work shift to accommodate his plans. It was the best night and just one of many ways that the Lord has shown us that this is His timing. 

5. When will your wedding be? 

Our wedding is going to be in an old cotton warehouse on July 18, 2014. YEAH! 

6. What part of married life are you looking forward to? 

Oh goodness...there are so many things I look forward to. It still seems surreal that it is finally happening after so many years of waiting on the Lord. 

I think one of the first things I look forward to is just being able to serve Danny. Ever since I was 15 years old (except my years at college in Florida), I have worked-full time..mostly always two jobs..at times, three. So, I have never been able to serve in the capacity of being a homemaker. I look forward to blossoming in that area and being able to love Danny by giving of myself in that way. I look forward to creating an environment for him to feel safe, loved and at peace the moment he walks through the door of our home. 

Secondly, I look forward to all the ways the Lord is going to stretch me and mold me into a better person. A dating relationship is hard, and I know marriage will be even harder. I know that I cannot love Danny the way he needs me to unless the Lord is loving through me, so it is imperative that I prioritize my relationship with the Lord to accomplish my role as a wife. I look forward to leaning in whole dependence on the Lord for the benefit of our family. 

7. What encouragement would you give to young women still in the waiting stage? 

Waiting on the Lord is totally worth it. 

It sounds so cliche, but it is so true. I am a very skeptical person so unless I have experienced something, it's hard for me to just trust something I hear. But I can tell you from experience, unless you do things in His timing, your plans will always fail. 

The Lord really taught me patience and contentment during our dating relationship. I am 27 years old...will be 28 by the time we are married. My dream was to be married right out of college...and to probably have a child or two by this time in my life. I wanted to meet a guy, date for a year (two at the most!) and get married. Especially once I started dating Danny, it was very hard because I already knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life, so as year after year went by, friend after friend got married and had children, I became very discontent and the Lord had to rid me of that attitude. 

I didn't know why I needed to wait but now I know that had Danny and I married years ago, we wouldn't have such a strong relationship now. We both needed the time to grow and prepare for a lifelong marriage. 

I will say that until I stopped comparing my love story with other people's stories and until I stopped nagging Danny and the Lord about why they weren't doing things the way I had planned and expected, nothing happened. I look back and see that I was hindering the very thing I wanted from becoming a reality. 

It wasn't until I submitted to the Lord's authority and respected Danny's leadership to move forward when he was ready, that the timing was made perfect. Danny made mention to me that he was ready to get married and bam! two months later we were engaged and planning the wedding. 

Our God is one who gives good gifts to His children, but they must be able to appreciate it and have the tools ready cultivate it first. Use the season of singleness to prepare for marriage: learn about yourself.. be very introspective. Know why you act the way you act, why you do the things you do. This is important when preparing yourself as a future Godly Bride. 

Also, allow the Holy Spirit to heal you from all comparisons with others. This will kill a future marriage and honestly, could create much bigger problems than you want to deal with. Learning true contentment and being able to appreciate the differences of each of our love stories and the gifts the Lord gives us all will bring true joy... and that is the best gift you can give yourself and your future spouse.

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