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I took the kids to noon Mass today, and we happened to park next to Gary.

Me: Hey, kids, Daddy’s here!

Lea: How do you know, Mommy?

Me: We’re parked next to my car…see?

Gary had come to church on his lunch break, and I was thrilled that the kids and I would get to see him. He was sitting in the back where Meleana spotted him. She and Therese wanted to join him, so at the Sign of Peace, I let them go.

There’s nothing like seeing our children in Daddy’s arms. Almost ten years ago, I never would have imagined how my heart would melt upon seeing these little ones run up to him.

During the summer of 2004, Gary would come faithfully to Monday evening Mass at St. Peter Chanel and sit in that same area because I told him he couldn’t sit next to me. And today, I was joyfully sending our daughters over to him.

On New Year’s Day 2005, Gary had to talk to Fr. Ed about beginning our courtship. And today, he was willingly returning to him for help in discerning yet another major life decision.

August 8, 2005 marked the day when Gary spontaneously proposed to me in the church parking lot. With a heart full of fear, I said I would marry him. Today, he helped me load the kids into the car and I didn’t want to let him go.

When I sat in front of Jesus in adoration after my client appointments, I “woke up” to the realization of how far we have come and how much Gary makes present the love of God in my life. Before he became my husband, he was always there – willing to be my friend…willing to love me whether or not I loved him back. Just by being who he was, Gary challenged me to give of myself and sacrifice the way I saw him give of himself to me, and later to our three children.

This is how I fell in love with him. And this is also how I fell in love with Jesus.

After getting to know Him, I came to understand that Jesus wasn’t going anywhere either. He was there to accept me for who I was, with all my shortcomings and through all the times I didn’t appreciate the love He was trying to show me. When once I was afraid to associate myself with Him…I wasn’t sure if changing my lifestyle for His sake would be worth it…I hesitated in surrendering my will to His, I now cannot imagine going back to the person I used to be.

So I can only pour out as much love as I can for both my Savior and my husband because they together have brought about a life-changing transformation within me that I will be eternally grateful for. Yes, every so often I experienced the fear of being abandoned by them. But it will not help my relationship with Jesus or with Gary if I do not trust them. If Gary is in fact supposed to be an extension of Christ’s heart as called for by his particular vocation, then I must live in confidence that the grace of God will keep him as faithful as Jesus has been to me.

So on this ordinary day, I celebrate my marriage covenant with my husband, as well as the covenant of faith that has fused me completely into the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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“Conjugal love, like romantic love, wants to be heroic; but it does not limit arbitrarily the scope of this heroism. In its desire to relate itself existentially to heroism, it will find it also in the modest deeds of everyday life, and will transform the tiresome routine of daily duties into golden threads binding oneself closer and closer to the beloved. There is in conjugal love a not of truth which is lacking in romantic love. It has been tested in the furnace of everyday trials and difficulties and has come out victoriously…. To be kind and lovable for a moment is not great feat. But to be loving day after day in the most varied and trying circumstances can be achieved only by a man who truly loves.” – Dr. Alice von Hildebrand

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