|A Vision of Perfection Captured My Heart|
|by Ellen Braunstein|
|VISION OF PERFECTION CAPTURED MY HEART|
By Floyd and Gwen as told to Ellen Braunstein, wedding keepsake writer of www.courtship-stories.com
I take pride in my peripheral vision – the ability to notice a good looking woman without getting caught. So thank goodness I
didn’t turn my head when I saw Gwen for the first time. My Hummer might have crashed into a school wall and bent the license
I was dropping off my niece at Manning Oaks Elementary School on November 8, 2005. I passed by this beautiful woman in the
parking lot, and – whoaaaaahhh, wait a minute. . . I slowed, adjusted my rear view mirror and caught a reflection of a black
skirt hugging a perfect physique. When it comes to women, in most cases, I’m shy. But, I thought, I’m going to give this a
shot because this girl is stunning.
I was a special education teacher and I was outside trying to flag down a parent in the school parking lot. I couldn’t catch
up with the parent so I decided to retrieve something from my car. I hurried along and this man was driving beside me.
"Excuse me,” I asked. Can I take you to lunch one day?”
Oh, my gosh, I thought. This is going to be one of those rebound daddies – recently divorced, trying to hit on me.
I was polite. "Well, that would be difficult to have lunch with you because I teach.”
“Well, can I talk to you? I’d like to take you to dinner.”
I was flattered. He seemed very nervous, very pleasant, almost boyish.
Gwen flashed a smile at me and I was smitten by her gleaming white teeth. “Please, please,” I asked. “Can I get your number and call you?” By now, I was beside himself. I was trying to maintain my composure, but I was hyperventilating. Please don’t
let her say no. She wrote her number and e-mail address on a piece of paper. I rushed to my office – three miles in three
minutes – and I called her.
It usually takes one phone call for me to decide if a man can be taken seriously. Being a minister, I thought, he’s going to
call and hear my recorded voice and not want to mess with that. “You’ve reached the private voice mail of Rev. Gwendolyn
Some men are just intimidated. It’s a good screener. So I don’t get my hopes up.
All I cared about was that Gwen gave me a correct number. I immediately e-mailed her: “I’m really excited to hear more about
your ministry. And, I think I found my wife.”
You'd be surprised at the lines you hear when you are a minister. I had heard the “revelations” before from would-be suitors.
‘God told us to be together…’ I had apprehension. But I was excited. This seemed to be different.
When I met Gwen, I knew I had met my future spouse so I was happy to speed up the sequence of events necessary to court a
woman. I could combine our first date with an introduction to her parents.
Benjamin and Emma had surprised Gwen with a visit that weekend to hear their daughter preach. I thought it was simply a
blessing for me that I could take her out and her mom and dad would be there. I wanted to make a decent impression.
He came and did the little high school thing. It was so sweet. He met my parents the first date out. Normally, my dad
wouldn’t be too communicative, but my parents just interacted like he’d been there forever.
During our dinner date, Floyd was the perfect gentlemen. He opens my door. He’s romantic. He holds hands.
I drove Gwen to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and parked the car. I’m coming to get you, I said. At five feet, she was too short
to step out of the Hummer unassisted. So I just scooped her up off the seat.
I laughed and told Floyd he really needed to put me down. "But you’re so petite," he said. "I thought that would be a lot of
At the restaurant, Gwen and I discovered we shared a love for good food. And both of us took water with a twist of lime. Most
people order lemon. I told her, "‘This can’t be a coincidence.”
When Floyd and I both ordered water with lime, we almost fell out of our chairs, Neither of us were drinkers. No
drinking,cursing, smoking or clubbing. We filled the evening with stimulating conversation. We talked about everything from football to scripture to disciplining children.
I felt sky high when I hugged Gwen goodbye that night. When I kissed her, I went from 6 foot 2 to 7 foot 5.
Five minutes after Floyd left, I phoned Rev. Angela Williams, my godmother, to tell her about Floyd. “That’s wonderful," she
said. "Use your discernment. Take your time."
Then Floyd beeped in. “I want you to be my girlfriend.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Just us. I don’t want to date anybody else.”
I thought, ‘Wow’, that’s kind of quick. Click. Back to Angela. “He just asked me to be his girlfriend.”
“It doesn’t take long when you know what you want,” Angela said.
Floyd and I worked in Alpharetta so we saw each other every day. It would be weeks before I felt we were serious enough to
take him to one of my church services.
She gave me a CD of her preaching. I thought it was awesome.I was very supportive. I didn’t feel threatened by her being in the ministry. Gwen reminded me of my mother, Parthenia. She is a strong person in the church and a good listener.
I am a lot older than her and she has a lotof wisdom and maturity. Her soothing spirit is a comfort for me. I wanted someone who would keep me grounded in my faith.
Gwen was the woman I had been missing all my life. She completed me. I knew if I was going to have that completeness
eternally, she had to be my wife one day.
Two weeks after Floyd and I started dating, I met his children, Zhané and Jeremiah. It felt comfortable with them, They are
very loving children. And he’s a wonderful dad, very funny with the kids. They just love their dad.
My children liked Gwen immediately. In the weeks to come she would help them with their homework. She was demanding their
respect. She would say, "You need to do this in order to get that." My kids immediately responded with respect: ‘Yes ma’am,’ they would say. She acted like she cared. She took ownership of the family as if it were her own.”
I knew that Floyd was the one when I missed him while spending a weekend with her family in Woodford. He had asked if I saw
us being together forever. I could because we laugh together, we pray together, and he accepts the worst part of me on a bad
One evening, Floyd said to me, "Let's get married in February. We’ll just do it.”
“It’s December," I said. "I met you in November. Are you crazy?”
My heart said yes, but you only get married once. I want a wedding, Floyd. I would really like to go home. It would be a nice
way to end that chapter of being single and moving forward.”
I looked at her. "If that’s what you want, I want to do what makes you happy.” I called Gwen’s father during a Sunday
football game. “Hey, Mr. Charley," I said. "I want to marry your daughter. Will that be all right?”
“That’ll be fine, if it’s all right with her.”
Floyd and I started planning for a July 22 wedding. We picked the reception site, the menu, a coordinator, and the rest. The
one thing missing was a ring – a sign of true commitment. Aunt Ernestine questioned it. My father asked if Floyd was serious.
The deposits for the wedding were coming along. Save the date cards were ready to be mailed.
Gwen and her family didn't know this, but I had been making payments on a ring since December.
On Tuesday, April 18, she had
plans to attend a 7 p.m. rehearsal for a church drama. That afternoon, I insisted we go out to eat at Ray’s Killer Creek
steakhouse at 5 p.m. She told me she didn’t have time.
Floyd’s persistence made me feel like he wanted to apologize for our tiff the other day. I finally gave in when he promised
we would be done in an hour, tops.
At Ray’s, we sat at a circular booth overlooking a wooded creek. We ordered and our waiter brought an appetizer with a small gold box tied with a black ribbon.
The ring must be in it, I thought. Floyd had hinted he was proposing any day now. I opened the box and saw two Godiva
chocolate hearts inside.
He saw my long stare of dissappointment. “Oh. . . how sweet,” I said.
Just as we were finishing dinner, the waiter brought a Hallmark card. Floyd had written an apology for a stupid comment he
had made. “You’re coming around,” I said. I was pleased that he was sorry. “You’re doing better.”
Then we agreed to split a chocolate fudge brownie. This time, the manager brought the dessert and a half dozen pink roses.
They were so vibrant and rich. OK, I’m fine, I thought. I’m not mad at you anymore.
The manager came back and told Gwen he had one more present. My fingers were tapping nervously on the table. The manager
presented a cherry oak box. Inside was her two and a half carat sparkling, flawless diamond ring.
“Now will you marry me?” I said.
I looked at him and swatted him with my napkin. “Oh, my goodness.”
I felt relieved that Gwen liked the ring. My proposal was well-executed and the wedding was still on.
After Floyd asked me to marry him, I felt like I was walking on cloud nine. The ring was just simply gorgeous. It was one of
those things that you don’t think is important, but it really is.
I thought about how much I loved him. He’s such a giver. He gives 110 percent in everything – emotionally, spiritually,
physically; just his presence.
Writer and Creative Director
Courtship Stories and Tribute Stories
(888) 427- 8584
This is for Gwen and Floyd for a keepsake booklet for their wedding guests. They have it posted with photos in The Reading
Room at www.courtship-stories.com where it can be opened in three dimension with the click of the mouse. See it also at