Valentines Day in the 303rd

Now and then, I get the great honor of bragging about my wife. (I’ll do it again in about two weeks…)

This time, it’s a DMN story set to run in this morning’s edition (Feb 15) . A reporter and photog followed Dennise and her staff around for the day, working the angle of what Valentine’s Day is like in the “divorce court.” It’s a nice idea, and nicely written. And you can read it here.


Yes, I’m the un-named husband who made the mix tape for Judge Garcia. I even learned Tish Hinojosa’s “Who Showed You the way to My Heart” in Spanish. (Called a friend for the exact translation from the record…) I believe the other songs were JT’s “Something in the Way She Moves,” and Fogelberg’s “Believe in Me.”

One correction to the story: while Dennise and I met her senior year in college, we didn’t start dating until the summer afterwards. She had another boyfriend all that year, and we were coworkers to boot. Dennise and I were a part of a great RA staff during what was her last year as an undergraduate and my last year in seminary. I was the Hall Director and Dennise was one of my ten “RAs.” I was on four different RA staffs in my my years at SMU. But I don’t keep up with any of the others like I do that bunch. Maybe it was because it was our last year, but I think it’s really because it was a special group. Rep. Rafael Anchia was on that staff, along with our good friends, Chris, Carolyn, Shannon, and five others. We still see many of them to greater and lesser extents.

Since the story speaks of love and hate, I should confess that Dennise didn’t like me at first. Actually, it would be more honest to say that she hated my guts. She thought I was too cheery, and too forgetful.

I was. To some, I am still too much of both.

But at least I grew on her, and by the end of the year all of us were fast friends. Soon after, several things happened in quick succession. First, instead of being sent to away to a church far away, I was sent about 500 feet, across the parking lot to Highland Park. (Who woulda thunk it?) Then, instead of heading to UT to be with that long-distance boyfriend, they broke up, and Dennise stayed in town to go to SMU Law instead. (Who woulda thunk it?)

So, we kept in touch. We’d go to movies, or get pizza and watch TV at my swanky new apartment off of Skillman and Northwest Hwy. Our first “date” wasn’t even really a date to begin with. It was just two friends going off to see a movie: the deeply romantic film, “Total Recall,” with Arnold Schwartzenegger. (See, it couldn’t have been a date. Who in their right mind would pick that for a first date?)

Somewhere during that evening (after the film…) we looked at each other in a whole new way, sparks flew, and the rest became our history.

The best thing about our early romance is that we’d been good friends beforehand for so long already. We knew each other…our likes and dislikes.

In retrospect, it’s such a sneaky, covert, way to do it. You’re caught by love before you even know what hit you. You’re “just friends,” and so you don’t bother to strap on the the usual heavy-duty dating-armor. You’re “just friends,” and so you learn things about the other that it would take months to learn about a new lover.

And then, boom. One day it happens, and you realize you’re more than friends. And then one day it’s fifteen years later, you’ve got a nine-year-old kid who’s the greatest kid in the world, and a wonderful wife who’s also a judge, and who gets written up by the DMN telling stories about your first Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day, D.

I still don’t quite know who showed you the way to my heart.

But I thank God every day that you found it.


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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