Our Story

The place where Tom proposed - grateful to God I said yes!

If you would like to contact us directly our e-mail is: theromanticvineyard@gmail.com

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. 🙂

Photography by Mon Amour Photography

33 Responses to Our Story

  1. Bill McEachnie says:

    Wow, What a great story and I thought I was the only one who likes and knows Haygood Hardy’s music. Thanks for this great Website !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • debiwalter says:

      Aw, thanks, Bill! We’re glad you’re finding our Vineyard helpful!! I’m loving spending time with your wife again after all these years! Take care!

  2. Hi Tom & Debi!

    I love your site! I apologize that I somehow just saw the comment that you left for me over at Engaged Marriage a couple weeks back. I am going to spend more time looking through all of your great content, but I have to say that you have a wonderful resource here at The Romantic Vineyard (love that theme, too).

    God Bless!


    P.S. – I just followed you on Twitter!

    • debiwalter says:

      Hey Dustin – thanks for the encouragement! I just retweeted your post from yesterday, and I recommended it to my FB friends. I hope it sends more couples your way! Have a wonderful day!

  3. Jo Ann Freeman says:


    It was with a smile that I read how you met Tom…having lived it first hand with you at Nass I had to giggle. I remember you and your excitement during the whirlwind romance with Tom. Our conversations about love and marriage. It seems like yesterday instead of 30 years ago.

    God Bless

    • debiwalter says:

      Joey – I know! You had to suffer through my enormous high!!! It was a fun memory. You will always hold a special place in my heart for sharing that season with me! 30+ years…where has the time gone, and we’re still so young! 😉

  4. Jeannette Walti says:

    Hi Debi and Tom…
    Wow, what a love story! I would hope and pray this kind of love story for my children. Beautiful…and seeing how the Lord was leading you every step and turn of your lives..as He always does. Great reminder for me right now…love you all tons..
    You are leaving a wonderful legacy..
    love in Him,

    • debiwalter says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Jeanette! In our 31+ years together we have always been aware of God’s presence in and around us. He is leading us still! The adventure will continue, I suppose, until we stand face to face with the One who ordained our marriage! What a day that will be!!! We love you and are praying for you!

  5. Wayne and Bonita Slaymaker says:

    Tom, Debi…

    GOD bless you two. This is such a great site! I have recommended it to others as well as reposting your ideas. The pictures are wonderful…music terrific and the message is so needed!

    We were fortunate to have gone on a ‘Engagement Encounter” here in Orlando, in 1983…We made our Marriage Encounter in 1986 when pregnant with Joel. There is such a need for this kind of encouragement and for the ideas that you have posted…we recently celebrated 26 years of marriage!

    Thank You!!!

    The Slaymakers Appreciate You

    • debiwalter says:

      Bonita – how good to hear from you!!! Thanks for the encouragement, and congratulations on 26 years; that’s quite commendable in this day and age. The Walters appreciate YOU! 🙂

  6. Jo says:

    My husband and I were a part of Calvary Couples. We lived in Casselberry and immensely appreciated the teaching from Danny and Melodye. We were neighbors in Lake Bosse Oaks which we lovingly called Calvary Couples Cove – many couples from the group as well as many of Calvary’s pastors lived there. What a ministry the Jones’ had. Many powerful ministries blossomed from that large group of committed couples. We just celebrated 37 years.

    • Debi Walter says:

      You forgot to leave your name… We live in LBO and remember it back in the day! Danny & Mel are still dear friends and are doing well! Great fruit has come from those early days! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Terry says:

    My husband and I were a part of Calvary Couples. We lived in Casselberry and immensely appreciated the teaching from Danny and Melodye. We were neighbors in Lake Bosse Oaks which we lovingly called Calvary Couples Cove – many couples from the group as well as many of Calvary’s pastors lived there. What a ministry the Jones’ had. Many powerful ministries blossomed from that large group of committed couples. We just celebrated 37 years.

    • Debi Walter says:

      Terry – e-mail us with your last name. We would love to share your encouragement with Danny and Mel. They will be greatly blessed! And thanks for commenting – time sure has flown by, hasn’t it?


  8. linda says:

    you are the only couple I know that has the same m date: We chose ours because 2 wks later my husband was being shipped out to Viet Nam. I am always teased by a friend why did you pick such a cold month. This yr. marks 43 yrs. and there has been some very painful journeys along the way. But God is good and He is Faithful. Calls us His Beloved because He loves us and paid the price at the Cross for our Salvation! Praise God!

    • Debi Walter says:

      Congratulations on 43 years! Isn’t it amazing how God has carried us through all these years? Welcome to our Vineyard – we pray you’ll be blessed and encouraged. But most of all we pray you’ll continue to share with us the wisdom you’ve gleaned through the years. Thanks for commenting!


  9. Laura says:

    Great story! I love reading about this and I am sure that your children and grandchildren will be glad that you recorded these things for them to look back on.

    Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog!

  10. Pingback: Honoring your spouse. | Encourage Your Spouse

  11. I found your blog off of another blog I read. I have enjoyed reading your posts. You have a great ministry online. I love to see blogs dedicated to marriage. Too many marriages are falling apart because they failed to “count the cost” before they began and at the first sign of trouble they want out. Good marriages take work and I like the fact that you give plenty of suggestions and ideas for building and growing a good marriage! Keep it up.

    • Debi Walter says:

      Thank you so much! We’re so glad you’re finding our post helpful! Blessings to you – Tom and Debi

  12. Mark Mathia says:

    What a wonderful story to share. Filled with hope that it can be done. Your blog is an amazing resource I look forward to reading and applying many of the great ideas and encouragements you offer. I will tell my friends they simply have to visit your site and read your story.

    Thanks, Tom and Debi!

    • Debi Walter says:

      Thank you, Mark. Your encouragement means so much to us. This is exactly what we’ve hoped our readers would desire – to come here for a resource ideas and encouragement to help in building a strong marriage for God’s glory. It is a life long process – what a joy to journey with others like you.
      Blessings to you,
      Tom and Debi

  13. Adam's Eve says:

    I’m nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you for your ministry! I love your blog! http://becominghiseve.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/the-versatile-blogger-award/

  14. This is a wonderful love story, Debi. I am a distant cousin of yours thru the Posey family. So it is REALLY distant. LOL

    I did make connections with your wonderful mother this past Saturday. What a great looking 90 year old!


    • Debi Walter says:

      Hey David,
      My Mom told me about her conversation with you. It’s nice to hear from distant family–amazing, isn’t it? Yes, my Mom is doing amazingly well. No one can believe she’s 90. I am blessed to have her still.
      Take care,

  15. RocknWifey says:

    I absolutely loved this story! Me and my hubby were married very young too (19 & 21) and after only knowing each other for 11 months…2nd best decision I ever made (with the 1st being Jesus). And your family photo is precious! We just celebrated our 10 year Anniversary & your photo made me think of us in the future 🙂
    I just started a marriage blog a couple months ago, and am very new to the blogging world…SO glad that I found yours!

    • Debi Walter says:

      Happy Anniversary! Your 10th anniversary is such a special celebration–for us it felt like we had truly made it. A whole decade is amazing spent with one person day in and day out. It was at this point when others start giving you credit for your commitment to each other. We’re glad you’ve started blogging and from what I can tell, it’s a great blog! We encourage you to keep going, and consider joining the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association (CMBA). You will find other like-minded bloggers who can help you, encourage you and support you when facing technical challenges. I’m looking forward to getting to know you more!

      • RocknWifey says:

        Thank you! And yes our 10 year was special, it feels like such an accomplishment in this day and age. We spent 9 days on the beach just the 2 of us and it was amazing! I actually have filled out an application for the CMBA and waiting to hear back. I had no idea there were so many pro marriage bloggers out there, its exciting! Thanks for your blog and for responding! 🙂

  16. Terri Lewis says:

    Hi Debi,
    I found your web site through the PreachersWord (Ken W.) I meet Ken and his wife a few weeks ago when they came to Houston,TX and held a gospel meeting at our church.
    I love your site. I loved your story how you and Tom met. Your children /grandchildren just an awesome picture of all you.

    Thank you for all your hard work. . Also, I have listened to several songs by Jamie Grace. Such a talented young lady. 🙂

    • Debi Walter says:

      Hi Terri,
      Thank you for introducing yourself to us. It’s great and encouraging to connect with others around the country, and world really, who love God and want to see marriages become all He intended. This is our small contribution and we’re grateful you’ve found The Romantic Vineyard helpful to that end.
      May God bless your marriage richly,
      Tom and Debi

  17. Pingback: July 2013 Feature Blog | Write. Blog. Connect.

  18. tannaz says:


    My name is Tannaz and I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now and love it! I occasionally come across blogs about love and family related topics and loved yours!

    I work for the company SoulPancake and have a video we made that fits the image of your blog and thought you would enjoy watching it!

    This video highlights the simple way two people can fall in love all over again or find that spark by looking into each other eyes for just a few minutes. I hope you love watching it as much as we did creating it!

    Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm-T3HCa618

    If you and your husband decide to take on the same challenge as our video, I would love any feedback from your experience!

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