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Our separation until Amy could move back to San Antonio
After asking for her hand in marriage and shopping for her engagement ring together, we both went through major withdrawals when she had to return to work, give them a month notice and arrange to move back to San Antonio.
On January 30th, 2006, she wrote, "Dear Adam, Hi Peeps! I can't stand not being with you! It's Monday and I'm dyin' over here!! Can't do it. I love seeking the Lord with you and studying His word together. That is the best thing we can do to build a solid foundation for our marriage together. I love you! -- Amy (Luke 6:40)"
A momentous weekend visit to Maryland
I respect Rob from his head to his toes. I hope to walk in his footsteps in many ways -- a man who unashamedly speaks the truth in love, eschewing popularity for that which is Biblically right.
Whether he speaks up for the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of God-ordained marriage or the right to acknowledge God in the public marketplace, Rev. Schenck, a Messianic Jew, is one of the most articulate, new Christian spokespeople on the national scene today. His black hair is usually cut pretty short, he appears to be in his early to mid-40's. When he preaches about the sin of America that grieves the heart of God, you grieve with the Lord over the depth of depravity to which so many have succumbed.
When I called and asked if he had that weekend free on his calendar, he said it was. After learning more about Amy and hearing of our commitment to pursuing a 161-question, pre-marital inventory, 12 hour-long counseling sessions and being mentored by an older, wiser couple at our home church, Rob committed to perform the holy ceremony. I offered to fly in and meet with him in person at his D.C. office on the Hill.
We met with him early Saturday morning at 7 a.m. It was quite cold in our nation's capitol during that visit -- hovering around the freezing mark. If you had no scarf wrapped around your face, you would quickly begin to lose sensation in the tip of your nose and your cheeks.
As we made our way to the Supreme Court, by which his national office is located, we stepped out of the warm air of the Metro subway, took the long escalator -- a couple of stories long -- emerging slowly from the warmth of the subway system into the cold morning wind which literally took our breath away. It was very blustery that morning. Despite the cloudless sky and bright shining sun, the freezing temperatures combined with the strong wind prompted Amy and I to wish that we were suffering in the 100-degree plus heat of a San Antonio August.
We finally arrived at his office, our extremities beginning to defrost. After we engaged in some small talk, Rob put his cards on the table.
"I think you two are doing all the right things -- the pre-marital inventory, the counseling sessions by a trained Christian counselor, Engaged Encounter and having a mentor couple from your church take you under their wing -- that's all exemplary. But I just want to warn you to be prepared to deal with one thing."
"What's that?" I asked.
"Your worlds are about to collide," Rob said with a big, knowing smile. "Now, don't get me wrong, in every single marriage, without exception, 'worlds collide' and it can throw any relationship off kilter if you're not careful. But when you marry later in life -- Adam you're 40 and Amy you'll be 30 by this fall -- you've already established certain habits and ways of doing things.
"So here's my one piece of advice: be prepared to compromise on the little stuff. Like how to keep house, how to make meals, how to clean the kitchen, how to structure your day, etcetera. I'm not talking about compromising your Biblical beliefs and convictions. I'm talking about compromising on issues where there is no right or wrong way to do something, it's simply a preference."
Boy, he sure nailed that one. This is exactly what I want in an officiant. Someone who doesn't pull any punches and speaks the truth. That's what I need so that I can go into marriage -- a sacred covenant -- with eyes wide open.
Amy nodded her head up and down, affirming every word coming out of Rob's mouth.
Rob asked Amy to share her Christian testimony and what kind of church she had been raised in.
Whereas she had been raised in an Assembly of God tradition in Texas, I had been raised in a Bible-believing Episcopal church in Connecticut. The differences are not as stark upon closer reflection than when you first hear Assembly of God vs. Episcopal. St. Paul's Episcopal Church, was an evangelical, charismatic church. So, in many ways, we had more in common theologically, than we had differences.
In addition to spending time with Rob, we spent the weekend with my parents in Maryland. It was a precious time of bonding between the four of us.
My mother whipped up a fancy, pre-Valentine's Day dinner complete with lamb, mashed potatoes and all the fixin's. As a special housewarming gift, Amy purchased some pretty red and pink roses for the centerpiece which was the perfect complement to a beautifully-set table.
After my father prayed for our future marriage, we ate and laughed and ate and laughed some more. We're not exactly the quiet, reserved types. Once I had cleared the dishes, Mom set out two cards, sealed in envelopes -- one for each of us.
The one addressed to Amy, said:
"February 12, 2006
"For Amy, How lovely that Adam has chosen you for a lifetime. Had he not proposed, we still were planning to adopt you so that you could be a permanent part of our family. With my love, Harriet."
"Dear Amy, We are so happy to have you join the extended McManus family, and believe you are the person the Lord intended for Adam, though it took him a while to be certain of that! Love, Mike."
After we each read our cards and Mom passed us a piece of a gigantic Valentine's Day cookie, my mother did something rather extraordinary. It made both Amy and I cry.
"On our 35th wedding anniversary," Mom said with the utmost sincerity, "Mike gave me this gold James Avery ring with a cross on it. I have always treasured it. Tonight Amy, I would like to give it to you as a memento of our love for you and to welcome you into the McManus Family."
I could feel a lump developing in my throat and hot tears spilling out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
"Oh Harriet!" said Amy, fighting back her own tears. "I don't know what to say. Thank you. Thank you. I'm speechless. Wow! Thank you. I am delighted to be joining your family. I love your son with all my heart," as she looked across the table through the pink and red roses she had brought.
The next day, once we were back in San Antonio, Amy handed me this card dated February 13, 2006
"Dear Adam, I had a wonderful weekend visiting with your parents. I loved every minute: the early morning meeting with Rob Schenck -- whom I loved, the little French restaurant, and all the snow --which I rarely see in good ole Texas, the dinner with your parents who embraced me with open arms by giving me your mother's 35th wedding anniversary ring and the beautiful, providential and appropriate message at Fourth Presbyterian Church by Pastor Rob Norris.
"I love being with you Adam McManus and can't wait to be your life-long bride! Remember Ruth 1:16 which says, 'Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.' Love, Amy"
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