How They Met
In May of 2000, Brian had just left his career in the Marine Corps and was driving back to his home state of Louisiana when he stopped at a gas station outside of Mobile, AL. His road trip home wasn’t going smoothly as he had hoped. He already experienced a flat tire and no spare tire to quickly overcome the automotive mishap. Sarah was on her way to a Cinco de Mayo party with her friend when the two decided to stop at the same gas station that Brian did. Although Sarah is reserved, her friend is not. Sarah’s friend stood in the gas station parking lot and hollered to Sarah, “Oh Sarah, HE IS HOT!” referring to Brian who was parked a few cars down. The compliment caught the attention of Brian, and as the two cars got back on the highway their flirtatious behavior led them to a nearby rest stop. “I was laughing and screaming at my friend at the same time. ‘He could be a serial killer and here we are following him into a dark rest area!’” Sarah exclaimed. The girls convinced Brian to join them at the Cinco de Mayo party. “He and I talked and danced and had an amazing evening until 2am when the bar shut down,” Sarah remembers.
Brian and Sarah had a long-distance relationship between Alabama and Louisiana while Sarah was studying at the University of Southern Alabama. When they could make it work, they would meet up halfway between their towns at Sarah’s friend’s house. “We would spend just about every weekend at their house or driving between our two cities. This was before cell phones and constant contact, so we always looked forward to the time we had together and the phone conversations when we were apart,” Sarah explained. Sarah describes their roles in their relationship as opposites, “I am the calm and he is the storm.” After Sarah graduated the following December, their love pushed Brian to relocate to Mobile to be closer. “The rest is really history,” Sarah concluded. The two were married in May of 2003 under Friendship Oak, a 500-year-old southern live oak located on the Gulf Park campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Long Beach, MS.
Brian and Sarah grew their family with the additions of a daughter and a son. Their son was born in November of 2004. Before he was even a year old, Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf states and Sarah’s work in marine biology took a nose dive. The young family, living by Brian’s motto of “improvise, adapt and overcome”, uprooted to Louisiana for a fresh start. Sarah continued her career in the marine biology field and Brian built a career in welding. Over the years, welding gave Brian back problems that required 3 surgeries. “The last one had him down for almost 8 months,” Sarah explained. Brian had contemplated police work but had reservations on the potential pay. His deeply-rooted dedication to service paved the way for Brian to provide reserve officer work with their local police department. Eventually, Brian did apply and get accepted to the city police.
Reaching Out to CKFF
As with many law enforcement officers, Brian’s work hours are not the traditional 9-5. “Brian gets home anywhere from midnight to 3am so it’s usually the sound of Velcro that let me know he is home and then I am back to sleep,” Sarah described Brian removing his police gear after a night on the streets. With opposite work shifts, Brian and Sarah’s marriage struggled with finding quality time as a couple and as a family. After a devastating law enforcement incident happened involving Brian’s department, his work hours immediately increased, “Our time together was severely limited. We desperately wanted to reconnect.” The Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (CKFF) heard of the incident and recognized the increased stress the event would put on a service marriage like Brian and Sarah’s. The Foundation reached out to Brian’s local police department and extended an invitation for an Empowered Spouses Retreat (ESR) to Sarah who willingly accepted. Following the ESR, the Foundation encouraged Sarah to consider a Revitalization Retreat for her and Brian. Sarah obliged and submitted a nomination.
Understanding what a Revitalization Retreat could do for Brian and Sarah, CKFF planned a trip for the two to San Francisco, CA. The couple stayed at an upscale hotel on the Embarcadero, the city’s eastern shoreline, near several waterfront attractions. During their retreat, they attended a Torrence Racing event, enjoyed a city boat tour, and evenings of fine dining in the city known for cable cars and the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. Almost as a tribute to how they met, the couple rented a car and took a road trip down the California coastline to Santa Cruz. “We haven’t had that much fun and freedom in quite a long while. To be in such a beautiful place sharing adventures in unknown territories was so good for both of us,” Sarah reflected, “The experience was once in a lifetime for both of us.”
Where They Are Now
“The Revitalization Retreat definitely revived and brought light to some highlights of our marriage that the daily grind had buried,” Sarah confessed. Along with the retreat, CKFF includes 5 marriage coaching sessions with a Licensed Professional Counselor to help strengthen service marriages like Brian and Sarah. “We are now talking about differences and working toward a common ground on issues we previously fought about. We both are realizing the work that needs to be done every day and the outcome of investing in that effort,” Sarah shared. Some advice she shared for other couples who may be struggling was to make a point for them to break out of their daily routine. “It was great to be somewhere with each other that neither of us had experience in, so neither of us had control but rather we had to communicate and got to experience a bunch of ‘firsts’ together.” As for where they are today, Sarah said, “We aren’t a miracle story just yet, but we have a lot of support and a lot of tools we never would’ve had without CKFF.”