Today is Jad’s and my fifth wedding anniversary. I am so grateful to call him mine. When we were newlyweds, I wrote about our courtship. I think our story is grand. Here it is:
Jad and Mandy met at a YSA dance in Apex, NC on April 3,
2009. Mandy had a boyfriend at the time, but liked to go to the dances to have
fun with friends and well, dance.  Jad
didn’t really like going to dances, but his friends had gotten him to go a
couple times before. He saw Mandy and was amazed at how beautiful she was. Her
dancing also caught his attention and he knew he wanted to ask her to dance.
They danced once that night. It was hard for Mandy to understand all that he
said because it was loud and because he had a strong accent, but she did think
he was cute and sweet. Jad asked Mandy for her phone number that night, but she
said she couldn’t give it. They ended the night saying that they would
hopefully see each other at the next dance.

A picture of Casey and me around the time Jad and I met.

May 1 was the next dance. Mandy had broken up with her boyfriend
soon after the previous dance. She saw Jad as she was dancing that night, but
he didn’t approach her for quite a while. He was pleasantly surprised when she
remembered his name. This time Mandy paid more attention to Jad, noticing how
good he smelled and how good-looking he was. They danced a lot that night; Jad
asked her to dance as often as he could. He also pulled her out in the hallway
to talk to her in the quiet and learn more about her. Mandy noticed that he
liked to stare at her. They had a wonderful time together that night, and the
night ended with them exchanging phone numbers.

A few short days later, Jad and Mandy talked on the phone
for the first time. He surprised her when he opened up quickly and told her he
was divorced. She had been afraid to tell him about her divorce and child, but
it was so easy to tell him. He didn’t judge her at all but told her that she
was a wonderful person and shouldn’t be judged on her past. It was a good
conversation. Mandy and Jad were eager to go out on their first date.

Mandy took off work May 26 to meet Jad in Raleigh. It was a
very exciting and fun day. They went to the Science Museum in Raleigh to see
the Chocolate Exhibition. It was invigorating learning all about the history of
chocolate, and the items in the gift shop were exciting and unique. Mandy got
chocolate bubble bath and Jad got chocolate soap. They ate Chargrill for lunch
and then went to the rose garden behind Raleigh Little Theater. 


Jad took lots
of pictures of Mandy with the flowers.

                   


He thought she was beautiful.

  Mandy was flattered but embarrassed.
She took a picture of him to make it even.
The garden was fragrant and lovely, and helped both of them see how they liked each other.

Then they went to the movies to see Star
Trek. The mall was next. They looked at everything from furniture to legos.
Then they ate at the Cheesecake Factory. Jad got Mandy to eat some of his
dinner. This was the first time they shared a fork. Jad asked Mandy to hold his
hand that night, and she did even though she wasn’t ready. The whole day was
wonderful and both knew that the other was great. The night ended with a hug
and a smile.

Mandy and Jad continued to talk on the phone periodically.
Jad got busy during the summer working double shifts, so they did not see each
other at all in the summer. During that time Mandy got back together with her
previous boyfriend when he came home on leave. She felt really bad when Jad
emailed her about seeing her at a dance, as if he wanted to pick up where they
had left off. She knew she had lost out on a great opportunity when he
responded to her explanation with grace and said how he would never regret
knowing her or spending time with her. 
Mandy’s relationship didn’t last. She ended up telling Jad and they
wanted to see each other again.

September 5 was the next time they saw each other. That was
the evening Jad met Casey. He was wonderful with Casey and Mandy loved the time
they spent together. She learned a lot about his country’s food that day too.
She kissed him on the cheek that night after feeling overwhelmed with how
wonderful he was.

The courtship continued for five months. Mandy and Jad spent
nearly every weekend together. They took turns traveling to either Kinston or
Hillsborough.


Mandy knew she loved Jad October 23, the day they went to the
state fair together.  That day she, Jad
and Casey had such a fun time and felt like a family.  Mandy could see herself being with Jad always,
but it took him a little longer to know.



Mandy and Jad got to know each other’s families and spent a
lot of time eating and doing fun activities together like going to see Phantom,



visiting Battleship, NC and Wilmington,


celebrating Christmas together, 
I got custom wind chimes made for Jad. The bottom said Just like music, you soothe my soul. I love you, Jad.

Jad got Casey a soccer ball.

I giggled that he put From the Kitchen of Mandy and Jad. It must come true now!

Jad drew this picture for me.
I thought Jad’s interaction with my Nana was so adorable. If she liked him, it was even more confirmation he was wonderful.
 going to a
formal New Year’s dance,


 bowling,


 and ice skating. 

They had little rough patches
along the way, but never doubted how much they cared about each other.


After New Year’s, Mandy and Jad knew they wanted to be
married and talked about it often. He even indicated that he had looked at
rings. Mandy hoped every weekend that he would ask her to marry him, but for
weeks he didn’t. She got a little upset that he was taking so long since they
knew they wanted to be together, but he always smiled his beautiful smile and
told her to be patient.

February 6 was the day. It was freezing cold and snowing.
Mandy had suggested going to Duke Gardens as they were planning what to do that
day. They almost didn’t go because of the snow, but still went after a strong
suggestion from Mandy’s mom. They both took their cameras in to take pictures
of the scenery and each other.

 It was freezing, but kind of romantic. Mandy
didn’t know this, but as they were walking, Jad was trying to find the perfect
spot to propose. They had stood under a lovely gazebo earlier, and Jad led her
back up there to take a different route later on. 


Outside of the gazebo was a
quote from Francis Bacon: God almighty first planted a garden. And
indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.  After reading it, Jad pulled three red roses
from his jacket. The roses, all varying in the amount of bloom, represented the
past, present and future or their relationship. Jad said some poetic words
about him and Mandy and how much he loved her. At that moment, a huge crowd of
people walked by. It was very embarrassing, so Mandy and Jad walked into the
gazebo as they were passing by. Then Jad continued. He talked about how their
relationship started out in a garden and implied that they were going to take their
next major steps in a garden as well. He said many beautiful things, but did
not get to the point quickly. It embarrassed Mandy and she shyly nodded and
smiled, adding little interjections. He did not get on his knee when he made it
known that he wanted to marry Mandy, but she was very willing. Then, he said
that he also had something for her in his pocket that he’d had for about a
month now. Jad took it out of his pocket, and got down on his knee to present
it to Mandy. She wanted to take the ring out, but he put it on her. It was
beautiful and Mandy was overwhelmed with happiness. She started to tear up and
realized the wait was worth it.


Our first picture together as an engaged couple.


Mandy and Jad started their married life together March 6,
2010 and were married by President Milton under the same gazebo where Jad had
proposed exactly a month earlier.


Though getting married at that time and that place was unexpected, Mandy and Jad were still so happy to be married and start their lives together. 

            It was a perfect day to become the Al-Bjaly family.


                             

 
Our little Al-Bjaly family has grown by two in the last five years, with the births of Rigel and Kamren. We have also been sealed in the temple for all eternity, put Jad through life-threatening surgery, bought our first house, seen Jad become a citizen of our great nation, gotten a dog, started a blog, put Jad in school onto a new career path, and mourned the loss of family members, including his grandmother and my aunt
I am amazed that we have gone through so many trials, tests of faith, and triumphs. I love my husband and my family with all my heart, and look forward to the next five, and fifty years. 
Thank you for sharing!

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