Friday Feature Couple ~ Cristina & John Crays
We were fortunate enough to have the Crays join our Thrive group this past Fall. Russ and I have led Thrive, which is an 8 week married small group 13 times, but on the first night this time I was flying solo. When you’re sitting in front of 5-6 couples, it can be a little overwhelming to run the meeting by yourself. At the end of the evening, I asked if anyone wanted to pray and John offered. It was the most heart warming prayer. I knew we were off to a great start.
The Crays are open and friendly…just what you would expect from Chick-fil-A owners. And yes, we had some awesome chicken nuggets when it was their turn for snacks. MMmmm MMmmm good!! I hope your paths cross with theirs someday because you will gain some treasured friends. But for now, get to know them below through our Friday Feature post or say hello as you pass through the Chick-fil-A at Avalon!
Q: How did you meet each other?
A: We met on a blind date! John’s aunt who he was living with at the time used me as a babysitter for her 3 kids. The kids loved me 🙂 and would talk about me to John so he asked to meet me. His aunt called and asked if I wanted to go to a Braves game with John. This was the opening weekend after we had gone from worst to first way back in 1991 so it was a no-brainer. We met at the Little Five Points Marta station and went to the game with his 2 best friends that were dating and are also now married. We are still friends with them today! Little known fact, this is the same aunt that brought John is first Chick-fil-A application and 30 years later he still works for Chick-fil-A! So thanks Aunt Cindy for introducing John two of his life-long loves.
Q: How did your husband propose?
A: We were in Miami, Florida visiting my Cuban family down there that he had not met yet. We flew in, rented a convertible and were staying with my aunt and uncle. We were out back in the pool hanging out and he just popped the question in the pool! Not sure why he had my ring in the pool but it was cute, unexpected but also private and special! We spent the weekend with him meeting all of my extended family and announcing our engagement. My grandmother threw us an impromptu engagement party that weekend.
Q: How long have you been married?
A: We have been married 22 years!
Q: Did you go through the Thrive curriculum? If so, describe your experience.
A: We did! Russ and Danielle were an invaluable resource. We are currently 2-1 mentors so we go through similar curriculum with engaged couples. While the material may not have been “new” to us; the opportunity to focus on the material and really dig deep in our own marriage was amazing. We learned new things, gained new empathy and understanding for each other. We walked away with great tools to carry us through these next chapters in our marriage as our children grow up and leave our nest. We are 100% committed to a strong marriage that thrives and exists beyond parenting. The most valuable learning was the weekly check in’s with each other. We haven’t been consistent in doing them every week but when we do, it has proven to be so helpful.
Q: What’s one thing you do for your husband/wife everyday?
A: John and I work together at Chick-fil-A Avalon so we are together 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We get lots of people asking how we do that but honestly, it isn’t hard. I love working with my husband and we are a great team. Of course, we disagree sometimes and sometimes we talk about work too much even on date nights but overall, we are living the dream with our family business in the city that we live in and love Alpharetta. So I guess we help each other every single day with the burden of a full-time job and raising two beautiful girls.
Q: Name a couple who inspires you?
A: My grandparents, Meme and Abu, were married for 61 years and their marriage has always been an inspiration to me! My grandfather loved and served my grandmother so well. He was kind-hearted and gentle and loving and made my grandmother the center of his world. He doted on her in such a sweet and special way. I have a very similar personality to my grandmother- strong-willed, confident, bossy- so I guess not consciously I chose someone very similar to my grandfather to marry. John loves and serves me well. He appreciates my confidence and strength but also steps up and leads our family when the rubber hits the road. He is kind-hearted and gentle and loving like my grandfather.
Q: Are you becoming the husband/wife you hoped you’d be? Why or why not?
A: I strive to be the kind of spouse I want John to be for me. Like Andy Stanley said- be the “you” you want to marry. That takes commitment and dedication every day because we are naturally selfish people and see things from only our selfish perspective. Have I “become” that YOU? Not yet. It’s a work in progress with several steps forward and then some steps back. Life is long, hard and stressful at times. It is easy to love well, die to self, encourage and thrive when life is easy and smooth! When things get hard- with your kids, with each other, with work; that is when the real work begins to not put your needs and wants above your spouses or to take out your stress and anxiety on your spouse.
Q: Would you say that you love each other more now than earlier in our marriage?
A: Oh my goodness yes. I look back to the baby I was when we got married and I barely knew myself or him. We have “grown up” together and made a conscious effort to grow together. To pursue similar interests but also support and encourage our individual efforts. I know him so completely now- his good and his not so good- and I love him more because I know him so well. The 2-1 curriculum at Northpoint defines intimacy as “into me you see” and I feel like that is true closeness and love. When you “know it all” and you still choose to love even when it isn’t easy or convenient or what you want to do, that is true love and intimacy and we didn’t even begin to understand that the day we got married.