Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I decided to attend the sidewalk counselor training class.
Now that I reflect on it. That was the day I joined the pro-life movement.
The pro-life sidewalk counselors in Ann Arbor were hosting a training at a local Catholic Church. I decided to go.
During the informational meeting, she stood in the back of the room, out of sight from me. When I raised my hand to ask an odd question, she rolled her eyes. “Who invited this idiot?” she asked herself, she later told me.
She is Milissa. She had no business being at the meeting, except by divine providence. Milissa had already been trained to be a sidewalk counselor by these same trainers.
One of them, named Barb, introduced me to Milissa. Barb suggested Milissa and I counsel together that next Saturday morning, since we lived fairly close to each other. We did so.
A few days later—I think on July 28, 2007—Milissa and I met up at the local abortion mill to try to sidewalk counsel. She suggested we open in prayer. That sounded wise to me.
When I heard her pray for the first time, I decided then and there I had to get to know her. I had to ask her out.
Once we finished our hour or two of counseling, I asked her out to dinner. We agreed to go out later that night. The rest, as they say, is history.
Although we were falling in love, Milissa desired to spend most of her evenings planning the first-ever 40 Days For Life campaign in Ann Arbor. This was the first year the campaign went national.
Thus, in order to spend time with her, I had to volunteer to help run the 40 Days For Life campaign as well. We spent most every evening together praying out in front of the Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor.
The next Spring we assisted the 40 Days For Life campaign in Southfield, Michigan. It was in February 2008, during that 40 Days campaign that we made a sad discovery.
Milissa and I found aborted babies in the dumpster behind Alberto Hodari’s abortion clinic. We turned over our findings to Dr. Monica Miller, pro-life activist and family friend. She broke the news that caught national and international attention.
FUNNY ENGAGEMENT STORY
Less than five months after having met, we were talking marriage. Milissa really wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. I prayed about it and felt fairly confident God was giving me the thumbs up.
I knew I had to ask for permission to propose. Not realizing this was supposed to be done to the father, I asked both Milissa’s parents at the same time.
Their response was silence, at first.
I am not sure they are entirely to blame. I came from the other side of the state. Although I had graduated from the University of Michigan, they did not know too much about me.
I chatted with them briefly, but they both seemed less than thrilled. I think they reluctantly said okay. Before we could discuss things much further, Milissa entered the room, so we had to break up our uncomfortable discussion.
Milissa and I immediately left in my car. She obviously had no idea what just took place, what she missed.
I know this, because we got no more than a quarter mile down the road, when she turns to me to predict, “When you ask my parents for permission to marry me, they are going to be SO excited!”
“Yeah, I bet…,” was about all I could muster, not having the heart to let her down.
I carried the ring around in my pocket for a few days, trying to find the right opportunity to propose.
I decided to take her to the place we met (that same Catholic Church) and then out to the restaurant where we had our first date. While we spent some time in adoration at the Church’s chapel, I was begging Jesus for confirmation I should propose. I wanted to be sure. Then, I took her by the hand.
I led her down the hall to the meeting room we met in five months earlier. When we went inside, I saw a ginormous Our Lady of Guadalupe painting on the far wall, with two kneelers in front of it.
I said aloud, “This is perfect!” and I flipped on the light switch. I do not recommend searching for signs. But having Our Lady there was the proof I needed from above that Milissa was “the One” for me.
We knelt together in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom Milissa has a devotion. After we said a few prayers, I said some mushy stuff. Then I knelt on one knee, and I asked her to marry me.
“Are you serious?” was her first response. I confirmed I wasn’t joking. She said yes, we embraced, and we were so joyful. We stayed there kneeling to pray a Rosary together, before leaving.
FAST FORWARD IN TIME
I proposed to her a few days before Christmas 2007. We had planned to marry in August 2008, but God had other plans.
By Valentine’s Day 2008, both Milissa and I were out of work, thanks to the downturn in the economy.
She felt called to do pro-life work full-time, so she began searching across the country. She landed a job in Dallas, for the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas (CPLC).
We met with our priest, who agreed to move up our wedding to later that week! We were in a hurry, as Milissa’s new employers wanted her to start ASAP. I didn’t have a job and finding one would likely prove easier in Texas than in Michigan.
The few days leading up to our wedding were frantic. At the time, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment. I convinced the landlord to let me out of my lease and to pay someone to come toss out all my furniture and belongings. All for the cost of about two month’s rent.
Meanwhile, Milissa had been living with her parents. We each packed all our belongings we could into each of our sedans.
We got married Leap Day 2008.
A foot of snow fell that morning. After having a short, make-shift wedding reception at her parent’s flower shop / café, we said our good byes.
About six hours after our nuptial Mass ended, we were on the road. We followed each other, in our vehicles, to Dallas.
When Milissa was in Dallas for the interview, just a week prior, she landed an apartment. She wasn’t sure if she was to live there alone, or with me. Now, that’s where we started our life together.
While Milissa began work immediately for the CPLC, I struggled to find full-time work initially. So to begin my time in Dallas, I spent five or six days a week on the sidewalk. I did this for virtually the entire Spring and Summer, gaining a lot of sidewalk counseling experience outside the Dallas abortion mills.
Nowadays I have a full-time job, and I volunteer on the side, usually for the CPLC. I sidewalk counsel, give chastity talks, and do other things as they come up. Milissa continues her work for the CPLC.
My beautiful wife gave birth to two wonderful children, Monica (now age 5), and Elijah (now age 3). They are terrific kids.
Following those two children, we went through the trials of four miscarriages, as I have related in the past.
Now, we are pregnant once more. So far, Milissa and “Baby Rainbow” are healthy. Your prayers for a healthy remainder of a pregnancy and for baptism for our baby would be most appreciated.
As you can see, we are deeply committed to the pro-life movement. I hope you enjoyed this retelling of how Milissa and I fell in love.
We try to follow the Virgin Mary’s example at the Annunciation. We try to take the attitude: “Be it done unto me, according to Thy word.”
Did you or anyone you know fall in love doing pro-life work?
Please share your story or any other thoughts below!