20 years ago today, God began crafting a beautiful story for my family.
This is the day my Mom said, "I do" to Tony Pate. I was only 5 years old at the time (I have a hard enough time remembering the details of last week, let alone to details of something that took place 20 years ago), so my memories of that day are very vague. But I can tell you that God set our family on a track that has reaped blessing after blessing after blessing.
My Mom and Tony have such a beautiful love story. It's one that I have adored with all my heart. As I watched their love grow over the years, I could only hope that God would bless me with such a precious love between me and my own spouse one day.
I remember sitting in the back seat of the car watching them hold hands. I remember watching them stand in the kitchen and hug each other. I could see their love overflowing by the way they looked at each other. I never heard them fight a single day in my life. It was obvious they both esteemed each other as better than themselves. They loved serving one another. The loved taking care of one another. There was never a day I questioned their love. It's the kind of love you read about in storybooks, and I got to watch in unfold right before my eyes for nearly 20 years.
I couldn't have asked for a better man to step into our family after losing my Dad in 1993. Since I was only 5 years old, Tony really is the only Dad I have ever known. He is the man who has raised me and taught me so many lessons. He is the man who has prayed for me and fought for me. He is the man who I thought was "so mean" when he wouldn't let me date certain boys in high school and even college. But he is now the man to whom I say "thank you" with all my heart for protecting me and helping me wait for the man of my dreams. He is the man who has given me so much more than I deserve - so much, that I don't even know how to begin to repay him. He is the man that loved my momma with all his heart. He is the man who gave of himself so unconditionally and took care of my Mom until her final breath. He stayed by her side to the very end. I saw their love grow deeper than I ever thought possible in these past 2 years.
I thank God for placing Tony in our lives 20 years ago. I write this with tears streaming down my face. I don't know how to convey how blessed and how truly thankful I am. God knew what He was doing when He gave us the most kind-hearted, gentle, giving, self-sacrificing, loving man to step in and lead our family.
I want to close by sharing a paper that I wrote as a 17-year old senior in high school. Even now, as a 25-year old college grad, I don't think I could write or get the point across quite as clearly as I did then...
Tony, I hope you know how much I love you and how thankful I am to be your little girl. You are one of the greatest blessings God has given me, and I don't know where I would be without your widsom, your prayers and your love. Thank you for stepping into our family 20 years ago today. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me along the right path. Thank you for praying for me and for fighting for me. Thank you for leading our family. And thank you for loving my Mom with a passionate, unconditional love. You have set a beautiful example that I want to follow in my life and in my marriage. Thank you for everything. I love you with all my heart!
"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."