Steak N My Heart

Steak N My Heart

Lee and I met on February 15, 2005. Since then, we’ve never gone out to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead, she and I celebrate what we affectionately refer to as our Valenversary. It’s great because we’ve never had a problem securing a reservation for the day after Valentine’s.

This year, we wanted to do something completely different. Lee and I love steak, and we wanted to try a steakhouse neither one of us had been to previously. At the recommendation of friends, we tried Rococo Steak in St. Petersburg. It was, simply put, amazing. My steak was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, and Lee’s was even better.

The service at the restaurant was impeccable and the overall ambiance was comfortable (albeit different). Still, if you’re looking for great steak in the Tampa Bay area, Rococo is a can’t miss.

Image from TampaBay.com

As for our anniversary, it’s been an amazing thirteen years. Thirteen years ago, I was aflutter in chaos and personal darkness. I was perhaps as far away from God as I’d ever been in my life. Yet in that darkness, God found me and blessed me with a shimmer of light and introduced me to the woman I would go on to marry.

We were both burdened with a sense of broken. We were both meandering through life, aware of who God is, but not in any particular hurry to get back to Him. I firmly believe God used Lee to steer me back to His gracious protection and vice versa.

Thirteen years ago tonight I was greeted on a blind date with an amazing smile and a surprisingly firm handshake. Looking back, I am so lucky and blessed Lee firmly grabbed my heart and decided to never let go because she has saved me in so many ways.

A Belated Love Letter

Sometimes life – and laziness – tend to get in the way. I noticed that when I came to the realization I had not posted to my blog since the 13th. Ugh. So much for me writing every day.

Still, there are times when the ability to sit at the keyboard and put together a post just isn’t feasible. Yard work needs to get done, kids need to be shuttled to events, beer needs to be consumed with friends. And sometimes, the routine just needs to make way for something special.

It was nine years ago on the 15th of February that I first met my wife Lee. It was at a blind date at Lee Roy Selmon’s restaurant in New Tampa (I know, I’ve got super-style, right?). I still remember being nervous as I spoke to my friend on the phone as I waited for her to arrive. I remember the confident smile on her face as she introduced herself. I remember going home that night with a sense of ‘Wow!”, and looking forward to the next time I’d see her again.

Since we met on the 15th of February – the day after Valentine’s Day – Lee and I refer to that date as our Valenversary. It’s worked out for us since we don’t have the pressure of trying to do something for Valentine’s Day knowing we’ll be going out to dinner, or doing something special, the following evening. As Lee and I enjoyed our Valenversary dinner Saturday night, I made the comment that our first date felt like a lifetime ago. She looked up from her plate, smiled coyly, and replied, “That’s because it has been. We’ve lived a lifetime’s worth of experiences these past nine years.”

And she was right. It’s such a blessing to be able to rattle off the laundry list of cool things we’ve done since we met. In 2006 we were introduced to our ‘music family’, the people that make up our close circle of friends with whom we’ve shared so many experiences. We’ve been to so many music concerts and live shows, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. We’ve traveled for music festivals, and have gotten to meet and hang out with some very cool performers. We’ve been on six Rock Boats, as well as two other Sixthman cruises (Zac Brown and Elvis).

In 2008, Lee and I traveled to Costa Rica and had a week of jungle experiences. We paired that with a trip to Mexico for a relaxing stay at an all-inclusive resort. We loved it so much, we bought into their vacation package and have stayed with them several times since (we were married at the Palace resort on Isla Mujeres in 2009).

We’ve connected with the social media community in Tampa. That has allowed us to meet so many fascinating people, one of which is Mama Lucy who is transforming the lives of children in Tanzania.

Lee and I have found our spiritual home in Relevant Church, and we’ve been able to share and celebrate our faith together, despite our very different religious backgrounds.

And through it all, the most amazing part is the transformation I’ve experienced because of Lee. To say she saved my life is an understatement. She was an angel sent to me when I needed it most. She opened my eyes to what great love looks like. She’s challenged me to be a better man, a stronger husband, and a vessel for God’s work here on earth. Although it took me some time to realize it, she’s been exactly what I needed in my life.

No, we’re not perfect. We argue and fight, and we get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Still, sharing my life with Lee has taught me those disruptions are just that; disruptions. Brief, momentary hiccups that don’t come close to comparing to the mountainous joy we otherwise share on a regular basis.

These past nine years have been spectacular, and I am giddy at the thought of what forever after has in store for us.

083/365 M2M: Congratulations

Lee and I, along with the kids, met up with our dear friends Matt and Michelle (aka Mattelle) for dinner tonight. It wasn’t just a normal dinner get-together, however. In addition to meeting up to discuss travel plans for our trip to Mexico this summer, Mattelle were also celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary.

That longevity in a relationship is something to be commended, especially when you consider that 22 minutes with Matt can seem like an eternity (love you, too, brother). Yet through the ups and downs and ins and outs of life, Mattelle never falter from the relationship they share, and I am so honored to be able to call them my friends. In fact, they’re much more than that. They’re family. And I am sure 22 years from now, we’ll be getting together once again over dinner and celebrating the beautiful marriage they continue to share.

Matt and Michelle, congratulations to you both.