Marriage is a beautiful union of two people moving toward a common goal. As a young boy, I saw marriages from the outside looking in. I was an observer from a distance of families that grew out of this marriage relationship. Some were good and some were not so good. As I got older, I wondered what it would be like to be married. I never really dated much in high school or even in college for that matter. I had wondered if I was meant to be single. I came to Christ shortly after I started college at the age of 19. As I grew in my faith, my criteria for a wife began to take shape. This ideal woman was out there, and I was on a mission to find her. I knew what I wanted (better yet I knew what God wanted) in a spouse so I did not waste time dragging relationships out with someone who did not measure up. I kept looking, but I knew after the first date with a young lady whether or not to continue the process. Needless to say, I became weary lamenting the fact that this process may take longer than I thought. As a result, one night while I was praying I told God that I was giving up the search. I was keenly aware that I had no power or influence in how this marvelous soul mate would be found. I gave up control and surrendered this burden to God. I went on a few more dates after that with some very nice young ladies, but the urgency I once felt to find that special someone now gave way to peace.
At this time, I was a sophomore at GA State University pursuing a Music Business degree. I was attending a local mission church in town and began to help out as a volunteer youth leader. As the church began to grow, more and more new families joined this little church. One such family was the Boan family. Vanessa, her two older children, and a newborn baby happened to visit and join Hope Baptist Church. They were a nice family. It did not take long for our two families to become friends. Candace and her brother Tom were the first two students to become active in our Student Ministry. As that year went on, I got the opportunity with my degree program to apply for an internship in the Music Industry. A couple of guys who attended the Baptist Student Union with me had formed a band and were beginning to tour some around the US. This band, American Zion (Later Smalltown Poets) needed a Road Manager. I worked with them for almost a year. We traveled to 15 states and overseas to Germany. It was a blast. After the internship, I came to church one Sunday evening after returning from a long trip. After the service, I stood around catching up on all the things that I had missed since I was gone. As I was walking up the center isle of the church, Candace came up to me and gave me a big hug. She told me how much she missed me and was very happy to see me. I did not think much of it at the time, but this was the tiny spark that would soon ignite this incredible love story.
After my internship was over, I needed to find a job. Candace’s dad had just started a new business in town and needed workers. He sold Baseball Cards to Sports Shops in 3 different states by van and also did some online business. I began to work for him that spring as a salesman. After working there for a few months, things began to change. (Keep in mind I was not aware of this change at the time because like a typical man I was clueless as to what was going on.) One Sunday afternoon after church, my family and I were driving home and my mom asked, “Do you think Candace likes you?” I said, “I do not think so, why?” My mom began to tell me how she noticed that Candace always wanted to sit with me at church. She also noticed that Candace was everywhere that I was. I did not think much about it. Her family had a habit if coming into church late, so I thought she sat by me because all the other seats were taken. I was totally unaware of what was about to happen.
About 6 months later, we were taking our students from the church to a Halloween Alternative called “The Chilling Fields.” It was a live action depiction of portions of Revelation that took place on a 20-acre piece of property. This particular night the crowd was quite large. We waited for some time. Finally, it was our turn to walk through this unnerving scene that they had setup. Back in the woods, there were several cars overturned, people were made up with various injuries, and there was mass confusion. This was supposed to have taken place right after the rapture. This is where it gets interesting. As we are walking through this chaos and trying to make sure that we do not lose any kids, a man jumped out of the woods and startled us. He was covered in blood and appeared to be burned. He was grabbing on to some of the kids and shaking them. He was asking us if we had seen his family. They were gone. (Taken up in the Rapture) Just as this scene was unfolding, IT happened. I am not sure if I grabbed her hand or she grabbed mine (Candace’s Story), but we found ourselves holding hands. We both did not seem to mind because neither of us let go. Once we made it through the maze of events, we sat and talked for about 30 minutes. It was like talking to someone I had known all my life. That one night of what was at first an awkward moment, propelled us toward a relationship that is stronger now than ever before.
Twenty years ago this very day, we were joined in marriage. Everything that we have experienced over the past 2 decades has made our love for each other grow stronger by the day. I always heard people talk about Soul Mates, but I saw very few marriages that were of that caliber. I can honestly say that Candace Rebecca Brown is my Soul Mate and Best Friend. This journey that we are on called life, is so much more fragrant and sweet because I am walking side by side with you. You make me complete. When God created Eve from Adam’s rib, there was this longing to be complete. A part of him was missing, but once Adam and Eve were joined in marriage and became one flesh that rib was now back home. The marriage and life we have together is so much more than I ever dreamed or imagined. Every sunrise and sunset I get to be with the person that I love most in this world. As a father, I pray daily that our girls will find a love like ours. The longer that I am alive, the more I realize that our love is rare. Not everyone will experience the love that we have. I am truly the most blessed man on earth.
I am so glad that 22 years ago I turned in my “Man Card” for a few minuets and held your hand because I was scared. Holding your hand that day made me feel safe, but also made me feel like your protector. My promise to you is that I will always be here to hold you hand and walk through this life with you. At times our life together has been crazy, wild, unpredictable, and even scary, but this love is ours. It is strong, deep, and unconditional. If the rest of our lives are anything like the first 20 years, it is going to be one amazing ride. I love you all my heart, Funny Face!!!