Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today marks the first day of several coming anniversaries for our family. One year ago today, after a flurry of activity that included a mountain of paperwork and the addition of much gray to my crown, I boarded a plane with my husband. That plane was bound for China and our soon-to-be daughter, Claire Hope Kangtong Gour. Age 2 years, 5 months, 17 days. Black hair, brown eyes, chipped tooth. Special in so many ways. May 12th was the first day we held her in our arms. The Earth literally shook. We stood, shell shocked I think, in our swaying 34th floor hotel room. China was ravaged by an earthquake, and our new daughter slept through it in her Daddy's arms. May 13th, was the day she became ours. Ours. After two long years of waiting, hoping, wondering, praying. May 22nd is the day she became a citizen of this country. Lots of anniversaries! Lots to reflect on. Lots to be thankful for.

But, there is one anniversary more important than those. Without it, we wouldn't have the others. Today is 15 years since the day I became the bride of the man of my dreams....yes, Paul. Many of you know that we were married before this day. Our marriage certificate had been signed four months earlier. January 4th is the day I sat in an office and signed a contract so that Lizzie could travel with us for the wedding. An attorney insisted that this was the only way to get a visitation agreement for overnights in time for our wedding. Kind of ironic. But May 7th was the day I walked down the aisle, given by my Daddy, into the arms of my husband.

This will be a quiet anniversary......'cause exactly how can you top flying to China last year! But, that is fine with me.

How did we meet? Interesting story actually. I went to college just a 30 minute drive from my home and lived at home. One semester I had a class with a girl from my high school named Kim. We had not been friends in high school. Different clicks, you know. She was a very popular cheerleader. I was a goody. You know, someone who stayed way out of trouble, did not drink, did not party, did not cuss....well, you get the picture. Never mind. The point is, we were not friends. But, not enemies either. We were the only two people in the class that knew each other and we sorta struck up a friendship. An unlikely one, but a good one, none-the-less. Kim had family and friends in Charleston that she visited. She loved Charleston and wanted to go more often, so we began going on weekends to stay with her grandmother and go to the beach. I was seeing someone, but he was in the Navy and away at school. I thought I was happy, in love and planning to marry him in the next year or two. I thought.

One of the things Kim and I did when we came to town was go to clubs so Kim could dance. This was something I wasn't crazy about. Kim was outgoing and vivacious. She was perfectly comfortable walking into a room, thronged with people, and so loud with the music that the building pulsed. But, if you had seen me then, you would have been able to tell that I didn't fit in at those places. Shy and introverted, I sat at tables and "people-watched". I hoped no guy would ask me to dance and I protested Kim's attempts to get me out on the dance floor. But, I began to enjoy the people-watching part. Some of it confirmed for me why I rarely drank anything stronger that my Dr. Peper! A lot of it. Truthfully, there was no reason for me and Kim to be friends. We had absolutely nothing in common. But, we had fun together and for a few years we were inseparable. Now I know why. God knew what he was doing.

On February 21st, 1992 I went to Fannagins with Kim and some of her local friends. Later that evening a guy walked in and stood at the bar. Why I would notice him out of the seemingly hundreds of people in the place, I could not tell you. He was cute. Very. He was with a girl. I thought. But, he kept looking at me. He was not with a girl at all. He was standing next to the girl that is now married to his brother. His brother was behind the bar. After a few minutes, he walked over to me...... and the rest of the story is history. But, one of the first things he did after we met, was to whip out a picture of a little blond baby from his wallet. His daughter. She was two and she was his life. He laid it all out on that bar that very night that we met. He'd been divorced for a year, turned his back on God and wanted no commitments. In one brief moment in time everything changed. I knew almost immediately that this was the reason I was in that bar in the first place. And, I never looked back.
Up to that point, I had dated two guys, both younger than me, and both I met at church. It took a few months to get Paul out of that bar and more than a few to get him into a church..... but it happened. God knew what he was doing. And, I got to be the earthly shove in the right direction that Paul needed. My boyfriend was devastated, and for that I was sorry. My parents didn't like him with all his "baggage", but I knew they'd come around. His parents couldn't stand me, but I won them over...... eventually. What did I get out of it? Oh, that list is long. Paul turned out to be my best friend, my protector, my confidant. He knows more about me than even my longest lasting BFFs. He makes me laugh, and sometimes he makes me crazy, but most of all, he loves me better than anyone else.

So now you know. I met my husband in a Bar. Not something we are enormously proud of now. But, we were very different people then. I may have had a more conservative nature than he did, but even I didn't know my Savior the way I do now and I certainly wasn't a saint. What I did know for sure, even then, was that everything happened for a reason. My friendship with Kim, my trips to bar hopping past. LOL! It was all for a reason. And 15 years after the day I said, "I Chelsea, take you Paul to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part. According to God's Holy Law, I pledge you my faith.", I have no regrets. We've had the sickness and health. We've had richer times and poorer, better times and worse. Not once did I ever consider leaving his side. I'm where I belong and I thank God for showing me that.....over and over again.

Happy Anniversary. I love you, Paul.


Hezra said...

wow. thank you for sharing your love story. God is amazing. Have a happy day!

Michelle said...


Brianna said...

Happy Anniversary! :)
I love hearing those stories. Back when Aunt Cookie and Uncle Paul were "bad". Lol
You've both come so far, and I'm glad you chose him. He's a pretty awesome uncle.
Much Love to you both! :)

Maeve O'Rieley said...


SOme of that cute bagadge!

Paul said...

You still have the best little
"get away sticks" in Charleston!!!

I love you forever and ever! Paul

Darling Daughter. said...

Happy Aniversary! Ya'll look mighty cute together if I may say so. :)