20 years ago today, Jennifer (my wife of 16 years) and I went on our first date. God has blessed me in so many ways, but the greatest blessing has been sharing everything with the love of my life! Here’s just a little story (from my point of view) of how the Good Lord arranged for Jennifer and I to fall in love…
Providence would have it, that both Jennifer Donohoo (of Eupora) and Danny Davis (of Pascagoula) would end up pursuing the next level of education after High School at William Carey College. Jennifer, as a pianist and musician, knew early on that God had gifted her to be a music teacher. She sought out that journey at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Delta State, etc. But Dr. Milfred Valentine at William Carey was the one who allowed Jennifer to focus on Music Education with a concentration in both voice and piano in order to prepare to become a High School Choir director. The other schools saw Jennifer’s piano skills and pushed that agenda without being open to listening to what she knew she was called to do. Thanks Dr. V!!! Without your openness, Jennifer and I would’ve never met. I, on the other hand, was still trying to balance a call to ministry with continuing to sow a few wild oats. I had applied and been offered to enroll in engineering programs at Mississippi State, Florida State, and LSU. But God has a way of “messing” up our plans. Dr. V (with the help of Harvey McClure) was also very instrumental in recruiting me to William Carey. So, somewhat blind destiny put me in Hattiesburg as well. After being a music minister in High School, I decided to enter Carey as a Church Music Major.
During our freshman year at WCC, we were worlds apart. The only things we had in common was a relationship w/ Jesus and both being music majors. Jennifer was caught up in the BSU crowd. I didn’t fit in there (at the time). I hung with the music and theology majors. I was the guy w/ a natural singing talent that didn’t have to work as hard and sat in the back of the class. Jennifer was the studious hard worker that sat on the front row. We didn’t notice one another very much that freshman year until the last week of school in May. Jennifer was practicing piano one night on the grand piano in the auditorium and having a conversation w/ one of my partners in crime, Kevin Earnest. I have no clue why I was in the Music Building at that time of night, but saw Kevin and went in to say hello. That hello turned into the 3 of us exchanging phone numbers for the summer. I don’t know what I or Jennifer did w/ the phone numbers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if both hit file 13 by the end of the night. Little did we know what would happen the first day of our sophomore year in the Fall of 1994.
William Carey began school with a special chapel service and convocation to begin each Trimester. Dr. Valentine asked me to lead the music and sing a solo for the service. Newly hired BSU director, Tim Glaze, asked Jennifer to give a testimony of her summer experience working at Camp of the Rising Son in French Camp. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I sang an arrangement of “He Leadeth Me.” Jennifer was wearing a flaming hot red dress!!! The moment our eyes met that day, was life changing. We connected following the service backstage and everything just began to click for us. The next thing I knew, Jennifer was sitting beside me in Music Theory. I was actually showing up for all my classes and doing my work. We were meeting in the Chain Garden and Library to study together. All the offers to go hang out with the guys turned into, “Naw, I’m busy.” It wasn’t just Jennifer and I doing things just the two of us yet either. We were having fun with lots of our friends.
Then a night of study brought a gang of us to IHOP for a big test the next day. If I remember correctly, Jennifer after having ordered some food, realized she didn’t have any money with her. I offered to pay. That kinda led to the next evening when good friend, Ryan Hays, invited a bunch of people in the music building to go to Taco Bell. Only Jennifer and I obliged. Honestly, we were at that stage where we would take any excuse to spend time together, but not ready to do it alone yet. So, that night at Taco Bell, I was the one who didn’t have any money. Jennifer offered to pay for my food and I responded with, “I’ll let you pay, if you let me take out tomorrow night?” She simply said, “OK”…later realizing I had smoothly asked her out on a date.
So, October 20, 1994, Jennifer and I went on our first official date. I picked Jennifer up in my black Nissan Sentra. She was wearing a blouse and a green dress with ducks on it. I was wearing my trusty plaid shirt. That night we had dinner at McAlister’s (doesn’t seem like much now, but it was a very hot spot in Hattiesburg in 1994). I think we both ordered the Club Sandwich and Sweet Tea. After dinner we went to the newly opened Turtle Creek Mall. It was pretty intimidating for Jennifer. We bumped into a lot of people that had known me and my family. But she wasn’t scared or ashamed to be with me. I knew there was something special that night but not ready to express that to anyone.
For the next two weeks, I think we did something together every night, including attending a marriage conference (by mistake, oops), sitting in the cold night air in the park by the zoo, and having a little picnic at newly opened Timberton Golf Course where we had our first kiss. After those two weeks, I remember calling my mom and telling her, “Mom, I think I’ve found her.”
We dated from October 20, 1994 to Cinco de Mayo of 1997, the day we were engaged. Then we married March 7, 1998. It’s been a wonderful life spending it with Jennifer. More than half of our lives has now been together. I can’t wait to live the next 20 years with her. There’s so many family and friends that I’ve left out of this post. And they’re spread from that first home of ours in Petal to Pascagoula, Eupora, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Fort Worth, TX, to Meridian and beyond. I’m thankful that we’ve always had support from all of you. May God bless you and yours the way He’s blessed me and mine!
I love you, Honey!!!