A Love Story – Part 5, After the Honeymoon…

So it’s the week before Valentine’s Day and I thought I would take the time to love on my husband this week in my posts and tell you our story. Start here for day one.

Marcus and Jennifer

Out to dinner on our honeymoon.

Our honeymoon, like our wedding, was modest. But we enjoyed being together and making memories.  It’s after the honeymoon that life got interesting. And where the real love story begins. Because we all know that after the honeymoon comes life. And sometimes life is hard. And when life is hard, that’s when you show what you’re really made of. When life is hard we can crumble under it, or gird ourselves with the Truth and become strength for each other. That characterizes our first year.  The first year of our marriage was tough. Not because we were at each others’ throats, but because of the storms raging around us. That storm on our first date and then on our wedding day would prove to be a foreshadowing of things to come.

As I mentioned in my last post, we originally planned a March 2009 wedding. But like I said, things just weren’t coming together for that date.  I believe this wasn’t just happenstance. Nope. There was a reason. A big God reason for moving the wedding. Because our big God knew what was coming our way.

One month after saying “I do” my parents evacuated their home in Galveston for Hurricane Ike. Our home 50 miles to the southwest was their refuge. We all rode the storm out together. Boy was that a wild night. We lost power before we ever saw a drop of rain. Luckily we had a generator that powered us through the night (and the next 13 days).

In the morning we realized it was bad. Very, very bad.  Power was out all over the place. And Galveston was practically cut off from the rest of the world. No cell phone service. No power. No water. Devastation all over the island. Their home sustained major damage from floodwater that reached over five feet in the house.  For the second time in their lives, my parents lost everything.  As if that wasn’t enough, my grandfather would go home to be with the Lord just 13 days later.

It felt like God was pouring on adversity. Right when we were getting started.

But Marcus was my rock. He was so strong for me as I dealt with the loss of my parent’s home for the last 15 years. My home. The place filled with memories. And the top tier of our wedding cake. But that was the least of my worries. My parents had no place to go. So Marcus just sat me down one day and said they were going to stay with us. No questions. Because if you don’t have family, then who else have you got? So my parents lived with Marcus and me for a couple of months.  It was difficult enough trying to adjust to living together as a married couple, now imagine adding a set of permanent residents in the guest room. That was tough.

After two months in our guest room, my parents finally got assistance from FEMA to get an apartment.  And they moved out in November. Do you hear the Hallelujah chorus?

In all seriousness, I love my parents, but we were ready to get settled as a couple. Marcus and I were thrilled to have our privacy and our newlywed lives back.  We looked forward to spending our first Christmas together in our home.  We put up Christmas lights outside and decorated the tree and prepared for his family to visit the week after Christmas. We even drove around one night, hot chocolate in hand, looking at Christmas lights while it snowed (a rarity in south Texas). It was magical. Life was good again.

But then, the unthinkable happened.  Early in the morning on December 20th we awoke to the phone ringing.  It was Marcus’ dad calling to tell us that his 26-year-old brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident just a few hours before.

I will never forget that moment.  Waves of sadness and unquenchable cries overtook me.  I will never forget the devastation in Marcus’ cries and the unbelievable sadness that suddenly filled our hearts. The next few hours were a blur as we packed up and headed to be with his family ten hours away.  A trip that normally takes a day, took us two. At this point we were just going through the motions.

Marcus and Morgan

Marcus and Morgan on our wedding day.

The days and weeks that followed were an especially difficult time in our lives. As a newly married couple, we were still just figuring things out. I was still learning my role as a wife. How on earth was I supposed to deal with this? How did I help Marcus cope? Especially when I was grieving, too.

All I could do was pray. And listen. And be a shoulder to cry on. And there were plenty of tears.

This was definitely something I didn’t expect to face. Not at this early point in our marriage. What happened to happily ever after?

But you know something?  God knew.  He knew that we should reschedule the wedding not just so that mom and dad could have a place to live after the hurricane, but so Morgan could be Marcus’s best man.  They spent a week together just before the wedding and that’s a week Marcus will always cherish. They even spoke on the phone the night of his accident. What a blessing to know they said “I love you” before such a tragedy.

Hug your family, y’all. Tell them you love them. On a regular basis. Please.

I don’t remember when exactly, but over time, healing came. We were getting back to normal after months of grief. Coming up on our one year anniversary, I did a lot of reflecting on what a difficult year it had been.  The whole year we kept just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I didn’t want to get too optimistic though and when things sort of settled back to an even keel, it made me nervous.  But we grew. God grew us that year. We grew closer together and closer to God.  My premonition was right, though. God had one last trial for us before the year was up.

In July I found out I was pregnant. We were excited! It’s something we had been sorta working on. We weren’t exactly “trying” but we weren’t “not trying” either. If that makes any sense. Anyway, we were nervously optimistic about having a baby. And we didn’t tell a soul. Not even our parents. Not until I was about six weeks pregnant and started spotting.

That was probably the saddest 48 hours of my life. I was losing my precious baby. Two weeks before our anniversary. What I thought was God’s blessing turned into tragedy number three for the first year.

I was devastated. Numb. I remember sitting on the couch and just wanting to curl up into a ball and cry. I cried for days afterward. I guess the hormones and the sadness became the perfect storm of emotional overload and I couldn’t shake the tears. I cried all the time.

But I found hope. One day I was mindlessly flipping channels when I stopped on a sermon. It was Tony Evans and he preached on Abraham and Sarah and the promise God made to them. The promise of a son in their old age. And I remember vividly hearing him say “Sarah, you are going to have a son.” And it was like God was speaking to me. And I took that as a promise. I suddenly had hope that I was going to have a baby. Maybe I lost one, but God had another for me. I would have a son.

Our first anniversary came and I was still a train wreck. Thankfully, Marcus saw past that. He didn’t care that I was all teary faced, snot-nosed and messy. Nope. Because He loved me. And because He loved me, he put on the CD he made for the wedding reception and he danced with me in our living room. Because he loved me. Just for who I was. Even the emotional wreck I had become. And I needed to be loved like that.

Two weeks later, and one month to the day that I lost my first baby, I found out that I was pregnant. Again. Wow. And I was scared. I couldn’t lose another baby when I was still dealing with the loss of the last one.

But this time was different. This time we told our family. This time I insisted on seeing the doctor right away. This time, God had a different plan.

And nine months later, Eli Morgan Finney entered this world.

EliThe son God promised me on that desolate day was now nursing at my breast with my husband by my side.

And life was good.

And our love story got bigger and better. And is still getting better with each new day. And I can honestly say that I love Marcus more today than I did on our wedding day.

He makes me laugh. He changes diapers. He plays with our son. He makes funny faces. He loves the Lord and is growing in knowledge of Him. And he loves me like nobody else in the world. He’s my companion for life and I’m so glad I get to share it with him. There is no other person I want by my side to endure the trials and experience the joys of life with.

Yep, friends. There is no doubt in my mind that even though we met on the internet, God brought us together for a purpose.

He made us for each other.

And I’m so glad He did.

Ecclesiastes 4
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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5 Responses to A Love Story – Part 5, After the Honeymoon…

  1. lindseymichelle says:

    Mmmm I did not need to cry this afternoon. Thanks a lot. But seriously, sweet love story in the middle of life’s mess. God knows what He’s doing.

  2. BettinaMarie says:

    Wow!
    We have had different, but still similar beginning to our marriages.
    So funny cause we met on the internet also.
    Very cool Jennifer! Thank you for sharing.
    You totally blessed me.
    God bless your day!

  3. Leticia Blanton says:

    I love to cry…..means my heart is open!
    Yes, God sure knows what he is doing and I am so grateful He put you in my life. I love you my friend!

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