August 7, 1966, was the day my life changed forever. That was the day little Susan Valerio was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
I met Susan in October 1985 after I was discharged from the US Marines. I was twenty and she was nineteen. Our paths intersected in South Florida when I was running from the law and she was running from the Lord. After living with me for a couple of months, she found out how bad running from God could get. She went back to the Lord and was welcomed back into the fellowship of family and friends no questions asked.
I like to take credit for leading her back to the Lord. Really, I drove her back.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to her parent's front lawn. I'm there, too drunk to stand up. “Susan! Susan!” I yelled, “I LOVE YOU!”
Picture her mother coming out of the house, finger wagging in my face, confronting drunk ex-Marine: “You’re drunk. I rebuke you in the name of JESUS!”
“I don’t need YOUR religion. I’m CATHOLIC,” I say, “just not a very good one.”
Next scene: the cops roll up. I swing on one and five of them jump me, cuff me, and shove me in a cruiser. I wake up in a jail cell, in my underwear, hogtied.”
Maybe I do need Jesus.
I went to their church, by myself. I wanted to see what could possibly make this girl leave me.
The preacher preached and asked who wanted to get right with God? I raised my hand. I prayed a prayer asking Christ to come into my life and change me. The pastor sent me over to some prayer counselors to give me a Bible and talk to me about the decision I made. My prayer counselors were Susan’s mom and dad. They welcomed me like a son.
Susan and I were married eight months later on August 23, 1986.
Susan has been God’s greatest gift to me. She completes me.
Happy Birthday, Honey.