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‘I Want to Make You Happy for the Rest of Your Life … I Can Only Do That If You Be My Wife’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY | Special to the Birmingham Times

ANDREA AND MICAH KEMP

Live: Center Point

Married: Dec. 6, 1997

Met: August 1996, at McRae’s department store in the Brookwood Mall. Both were college grads in their late twenties.

“I had just relocated to Birmingham [from Montgomery] for the management training program at McRae’s, and when I drove up [in McRae’s parking lot] Micah drove up next to me and the Omega tag on his car caught my eye,” Andrea said. “We walked in at the same time and ended up sitting right next to each other during the training and I started a conversation with him asking if he knew an Omega from Huntsville with the same last name… We didn’t have much more conversation that day, we were just cordial throughout the week, but I would look up and he would always be looking at me… One evening he said, ‘You seem to have a grasp of the management training material, do you mind if I get your number so I can call you with a couple of questions?’ I gave it to him, but he never called,” she laughed.

Micah said, “I didn’t want to come off like I was a numbskull and didn’t know what I was doing and even though I did not call her I continued the in-person conversations throughout the training program. But as fate had it, on the last night of the training sessions there was a member of our training group who was having car trouble. Andrea was out there attempting to assist, and I stepped in. We were able to get the person’s car jumped off and that person drove off and left Andrea and I in the parking lot,” Micah said.

The two learned more about each other that night and agreed to date.

First date: August 1996, at a restaurant in Five Point’s South. “He picked me up and was an absolute gentleman. He opened all the doors for me and grabbed my hand at every step to make sure I was okay. He was very impressive,” Andrea recalled.

“Andrea was dressed very classy, she was amazingly attractive, and her spirit was so positive and warm. Under the restaurant lighting, I saw how beautiful her brown eyes were. I fell in love with her eyes that night,” said Micah.

The turn: Between September and October of 1996. “I experienced the slow transition of a close family member with a terminal illness, and how Andrea supported me through that made me love her more,” Micah said.

“For me, it was a natural progression within the first few weeks of dating because I had asked God to allow me to focus on myself, and when He was ready to send me my soul mate, send me the person I was to be with for a lifetime and allow that person to find me. And, on one of our dates, Micah said ‘I’m not interested in dating for years to determine if I want to marry someone. We’re at a point in our lives where we know what we want’… And that night, in my mind, I was like ‘this is the one,” Andrea said.

The proposal: Dec. 4, 1996, at Andrea’s Aunt Gracie’s home in Powderly. “I went into debt and purchased a ring. I maxed out my credit card for a $500 ring,” Micah laughed. “That day, Andrea was at work and I told her I would meet her at her aunt’s house [where she was staying at the time] and we were in the kitchen and I dropped down to my knee and I said ‘Andrea, all I want to do is love you and make you happy for the rest of your life and I can only do that if you will be my wife.’ she was like are you sure?. And I said I was ‘sure’ and she said ‘yes’.”

In my heart, I said, ‘Lord you have answered my prayer’ and said ‘Yes’. After that, I was trying to collect myself because I had to go back to work … When I got back to work, I was telling all the employees and associates, ‘Look y’all, I just got engaged’ and was showing the ring, Andrea said.

Andrea and Michah Kemp met in 1996 while working for McRae’s at the Brookwood Mall. The couple married in 1997. (Provided Photos)

The wedding: At Landmark Church of Christ in Montgomery, officiated by Andrea’s home pastor, the late Rev. Paul Johnson of First Congregational Christian Church. Their colors were platinum and black.

Most memorable for the bride was walking down the aisle and seeing Micah become emotional and moved to tears. “Micah serenaded me, he sang ‘Flesh of My Flesh, Bone of My Bone’ [by Leon Patillo], and [while he was singing to me] I felt loved and beautiful, and thankful that I not only had someone who loved me but could also sing,” Andrea said.

Most memorable for the groom was becoming emotional when he saw how beautiful his bride was walking down the aisle with her brother. “I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be with such a beautiful woman with such a great heart. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the song because I was so emotional, but I got through it,” Micah said.

Words of wisdom: “Understanding that God is the foundation, and it is important to pray together. We live by ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’. You have to be very measured in your tone and the verbiage that you use with each other,” Andrea said.

“This is a recent epiphany, and I think all couples should know it, when you got together you saw the best in each other and wanted the best for each other … if we approach our spouses with that mindset and put God first, we can have success in our marriages. Not perfection, but success,” said Micah.

Happily ever after: The Kemps attend New Covenant of Faith Ministries in East Lake, where Micah serves as a member of the trustee board, and both sing on the praise team and serve as the couples ministry’s leadership. They have one daughter, Asllynne, 24, and their late son, David, who was stillborn.

Andrea, 55, is a Montgomery native and Robert E. Lee High School grad. She attended Alabama State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in English, and Capella University [online] where she earned a master’s degree in human services. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and works at UAB Hospital in the care transitions department in the Brain Aging and Memory Clinic.

Micah, 53, is a Bush Hills native, A.H. Parker High School grad, attended Lawson State Community College where he earned an associate’s degree in pre-law, Miles College, where he obtained a bachelor of arts degree in political science and a bachelor of science degree in social science education. Micah also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership, and an Ed.S in educational leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB], is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and works as a school administrator for Birmingham City Schools.

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

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