8 years ago: Brian and I got married on this day.
Most of you know our story and saw it unfold, but I’ll enjoy telling it, so here goes. We met our freshman year at Grace College. I don’t recall really talking to him that year. He played basketball and I was dating one of his teammates. I went to games all the time and just happened to drive to an away game with a bunch of girls and Brian’s (first) girlfriend just happened to be one of them. I remember during the game she made a comment about how cute his butt was while he was making a free throw shot. That is so weird to remember now.
Our sophomore year our paths crossed one afternoon while doing SALT after a day of prayer—do you Gracies remember those days? I was still dating that same guy and Brian was dating another girl. We did some clean-up and organizing at CE National for the afternoon and he drove me back to Alpha. I remember talking about his family—specifically his mom and little sister. By Christmas, me and that guy were broken up. I had dated and dated during high school and realized I really needed a break from dating. I decided to not date for a year. That was one of the best decisions ever made in my life. I grew so much during that period of my life, me and God were tight.
The beginning of my junior year I was at the RA retreat and I remember Brian and I having a conversation and it was about his family again. I played four square a lot at that retreat and Brian did too. Then began an interest in him, we had our one and only class together that year. We ended up sitting around each other for most of that class(ECON with Avalone—–the worst class ever!!!!!!) I had conversations with him, but nothing that really sticks. I remember him giving me a zipper from his jacket and I kept it in my bookbag for a long time—I threw it away sometime before “we” ever began.
We both led OB that summer—that is when it all began. He was interested in me at this point. During leader’s orientation we all sat around tables to be oriented and before the first meeting he put his bag down and left. He wanted to sit next to me, but he knew if I saw him sitting in there I wouldn’t sit next to him. I didn’t know whose bag was on the chair next to me and I sat down. So, we ended up sitting next to each other for the couple weeks at Clinton GBC(a place where I ended up having my first teaching job). We prayed together several times that week for the teens coming—just because we were told to pray with our neighbor. He started flirting with me, but oh was I clueless. ( This already feels really lengthy, but it’s fun to remember all this.) He stole by stuffed Froggy, Floyd Jr. I was a frog freak for awhile there and brought one with me on tour. Brian and some of the other leaders stole some other girl’s stuffed animals and made a video of puppets torturing our lovies(so why did I feel like I needed that?). He wrote ransom notes and everything–one of the other girls took those. I thought he liked that girl—but it was all for me. We were on two separate teams and he wrote me several letters that summer, I thought it was odd he was writing me letters, I didn’t feel like I knew him well enough to be receiving letters. There was always a push by older married leaders and the students to push single leaders together. Brian’s fellow leaders pulled it out of him that he was interested in me.
At youth conference, they kept trying to arrange ways for a group of us to hang out specifically to get Brian and I together, but I was sooooo exhausted and didn’t ever do it. Brian lost all hope and visited Dayton and saw this girl he went to high school with and was smitten over her. He got back to RA training and shared his interest with some of his RA friends. I got there a few days later for student teaching and was walking across campus talking to a friend. We were discussing all the people who got engaged(the small Christian college phenomenon) he said, Tara your next. The next person you see you have to propose too. So within five seconds we were at Kappa dorm and Brian drove up. He stepped out of the blue toad and I asked him, “Will you marry me, will you marry me, will you marry me?” All his hopelessness was dashed. We hung out for awhile and chatted about our summers. He showed me around his dorm. A light bulb turned on in my head–oh Brian Gornik—hmmm? Then the thrilling adventure began. Later that evening that friend I had been walking with mentioned to me that Brian and I would go well together. A week later, Deb Musser made a passing comment to Brian about me and Brian said, “how did you know I was interested in her?” She didn’t, but he totally gave it away.
Then one night I was hanging out with Jil and Nate D. called to talk to Rich. Nate found out I was there and made an exclamation of me not being in my dorm room. We dragged it out of him what the big deal was, Brian was calling my room to ask me to go somewhere with him. I excitedly got back to my room to a note from my roomie saying Brian called. I called back and he asked me to go to Borders with him to get a book for his brother and to talk about our summers. So the adventure began……it was so fun. We didn’t talk about “dating” for a long time(well there was one mention of it and it caused a disaster, but that’s a long story, so I’ll spare you). Because of how crazy small colleges can be about the whole dating scene, I loved when people would ask me if we were dating and I could say no, we were just friends. We knew we liked each other and would spend lots of time together, but we didn’t talk about it for over two months. That’s a really long time in college life. Thanksgiving he came home with me and we talked about just dating each other, by Christmas he mentioned marriage and we had our first argument. I was sooo not ready to talk about marriage because that preemptive talking in my previous relationship caused way to much emotional pain for me. I didn’t want to make that same mistake. He insisted, I felt uncomfortable about it. I left for Israel for a month after Christmas. We journaled to each other since we wouldn’t be able to talk or write much to each other. We got back and read them. We both went through a roller coaster of emotions in them and then at the end he told me he loved me and I told him I was committed to him the rest of my life(my baggage with I love you played out in that statement–those other words meant more to me–really sad). We prayed and fasted about marriage, that was my first experience with fasting.
We were engaged February 5th or maybe 6th, I forget which one. We had our first kiss on our engagement–very, very sweet. We got engaged at Michael and Julie’s house, they made a great dinner for us and left.(For all those knowing Grace’s rules, Brian got special permission from Swanson for the two of us to be alone in the house.) It was such a fun night.
We got married Friday, July 23, 1999. Many of you attended. So many of you graciously travelled to Maryland—flying, driving overnight, getting lost in DC going to the airport, couples sleeping in single beds…..there are many stories I remember. You all were so dear to be a part of our special day and our desire to begin a life that truly desired to see God glorified in our lives. I specifically say that because we desired so much to have something different than what we grew up with and we were determined to have something better.
So—eight years later, we’ve had a long road with some great times and some really difficult times. God is so amazing and has faithfully helped us through. We are growing so much right now and are so excited for a renewed commitment to our marriage and to loving each other more deeply. I am so thankful for him, I always learn so much from him. He challenges me all the time to think bigger of God and pushes me to trust God more(that sounds so cliche and I don’t mean it that way at all)—he just catches me in my fears and pushes me to get over them and so much more than that. He is such an awesome father and I am so grateful for my kids to have him as their Papa. I’m so glad we are in this together—it is so unifying. While at UH, he taught me so much about how to love people and disciple them and talk with them. Something I love about him is how he would go outside and stop huge fights on our street in Philly—-I love how commanding he is in those situations. It makes me feel safe. I love how passionate he is, it’s made me learn how to express my feelings more and better. I could go one, but I’ll stop there. I love you Brian, Happy Anniversary!
These are some pictures while we were engaged–they were already on our computer because we used it on our program for our wedding. I don’t know how to use the scanner yet, so when Brian and I celebrate our anniversary(he’s in Mississippi right now), he’ll help me scan some wedding photos.
Here’s some since we’ve been married…….these are almost all we have. Brian and I really need to make sure we take more family shots and shots of just he and I.