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On June 17, 1978, Tom Walter took me on our first date to one of the nicest restaurants in Orlando – Maison & Jardin Restaurant. It was on that night that I realized what a wonderful man Tom was. He was 23 and lived in Bradenton, FL, and I was 18 and lived here in Orlando. I was a member of Calvary Assembly and regularly attended The Rock House, the youth ministry of the church. It was led by Alex and Jeannie Clattenburg. What fond memories I have of those days sitting under the practical and useful teaching of this funny man who wore ironed and perfectly pleated blue jeans! There was no mistaking the fact that he loved young people and had a passion to see our generation grow in godliness.
When Tom called me on a Wednesday afternoon to see if I would like to go out with him that weekend – He had no way of knowing that I had prayed that day for God to lead me to my husband. It had always been my desire to get married and start a family once I finished high school. I never would have dreamed that Tom would be interested in me, and when that call came I was exuberant! I remember running through the house hootin and hollerin that Tom Walter had asked me out. My grandmother just looked at me with concern.
Tom seemed to enjoy our time together as much as I did. From that day on he would come to town on Wednesday and Sunday, his two days off from his job at Gordon’s Jewelers; He managed one store and was the general manager over two others. God had obviously blessed him with favor and success, something that was very attractive to me.
I worked at Nass Service Company. I had started there in 1977 when a good friend who loved working there asked if I wanted a full-time job working at the best company in town? I said that since I was graduating from high school in a few weeks I was looking for a full-time, Monday – Friday, job. This sounded great to me! Little did I know how that decision would play out over the next 30 years! (Tom and I ended up buying Nass in December of 1999 after Tom faithfully worked there as Service Manager for 17 years).
Three months later on September 16, 1978, Tom asked me to be his wife. It is a day that I will forever thank God for. He picked me up on a Saturday morning (he had managed to get a Saturday off – in the retail business this hardly ever happened!) and took me to breakfast at a little diner in Pine Hills called Robin’s Restaurant. They had a jukebox, and I remember playing one of my favorite songs, The Homecoming, by Haygood Hardy. After breakfast he drove me to Kraft Azalea Gardens in Historic Winter Park. It was there on a bench by the lake that Tom began to share with me his hope for the future. He asked me to be his wife, and I, without hesitation, said YES! Although, it was only hours later that I realized I had never been to Bradenton to see where or how he lived! What was I thinking? I was afraid, yet I believed that God had spoken clearly to me that Tom was the man for whom I was made.
Needless to say, I immediately planned a trip to Bradenton the following weekend to see for myself what I had committed to. I could have guessed that Tom’s apartment would look as spotless as I expected. It did, and the wedding plans began.
We were married only 5 months later on February 24, 1979, at Powers Drive Baptist Church in Orlando, FL. It was the small church in which I had come to know the Lord in 1969, and followed Him in baptism. This would be the place where our lives would be joined together as one. Alex Clattenburg, along with PDBC’s Pastor Gerald Hicks, performed the ceremony followed by a simple cake and punch reception in the fellowship hall.
We were blessed by Tom’s dad with a cruise to the Bahamas for our honeymoon. After that we called Bradenton, FL, home for 5 months, and then, Tom was transferred to Miami, FL, with his job at Gordon’s Jewelers. He became the supervisor of the 4 stores, and I went to work for W.L. Nass & Son, the parent company of Nass Service in Orlando.
We attended a very small church, Gateway Bible Church, in Hollywood, FL. It was there that Tom and I led worship – if you can believe that! Tom played the drums and I was on mic. Although we were only in Miami for 10 months, the Lord used this time to cement our newly formed covenant together as husband and wife. It made the leaving and cleaving much easier when we were the only friends we had. It also made us have to work through our arguments because Tom was the only person I could talk to, even if he was the one I was mad with! (This was before cell phones, e-mails, and long distance calling was very expensive within the state. )
Once we moved back to Orlando (that’s another story), we rejoined Calvary Assembly and committed to Calvary Couples led by none other than – Danny Jones. It was here, in 1980 that the Lord began working on our hearts. We became friends with so many couples who are still good friends today – the Jones, the Seiferts, the Roberts, the Andersons, the Chews, to name a few.
We started our family when Jason was born in 1982. Followed by Tracy in 1984 and Heather in 1986. In 1985 Danny shared with us that he was sensing God’s stirring to leave Calvary Assembly to start something new. He thought he would be moving out of the Orlando area. After much prayer, lots of prophetic encouragement and amazing answers to those prayers, Danny announced that he would indeed be starting something new, but it would be in Orlando. In March of 1985, Household of Faith began with services being held at the Sheraton Airport. This was only the beginning of watching God answer the desires of our hearts to discover what New Testament reality looked like.
In February 2009 we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and 2010 will mark the 25th anniversary of Metro Life Church. God has been so good to us. We have experienced God’s amazing grace in many ways, and our life is full of rich biblical fellowship. We have discovered the reality of New Testament church life found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of the wise and faith-filled leadership of our pastor and good friend, Danny Jones with his wife, Melodye. I can’t imagine where we would be without the influence of this dear couple in our lives. God has been overwhelmingly kind to us, to our children – Tracy married Seth Lytle in May of 2005, and Jason married Ashley Jarvis in June of 2006. Now, only 4 years later we have added to our family four adorable grandchildren, Bristol and Willow Walter and Norah and Bradley Lytle. Another little Lytle is on the way in June of 2012.