I know, I know, I am doing this 365 project and everything, but sometimes I just feel like blogging. Don’t worry, you’ll get your pictures next time. I have found that when I edit shoots, it really helps me to take a 2 day picture break before starting another one. Since I took a day off yesterday, this would be day 2, and I am going to avoid the photography subject.
One thing I’ve thought would be fun to blog about would be to talk about my pre-blog life, if that makes any sense. I started this blog in early 2005, when I was in my first year of college and engaged to be married to the love of my life. But, believe it or not, there was life before the blog! One question a lot of our “real life” friends ask is how Josh and I ended up together. He’s 6 years older than me and we got married when I was 19, which looks a little fishy. I don’t know how much energy I will have to recount our story tonight, but I’ll at least get it started.
I do want to put a disclaimer here before I really get going. Just because this happened to me does not mean that my choices would be the right choices under other circumstances. I am not trying to say that other teenagers/young adults should do what I have done. This just happened to be what God has done for me in my life. I totally respect people’s decisions to wait until they’re older and more mature to decide on who they are going to marry.
Our story sort of starts with another guy. I entered my first “serious” dating relationship when I was 14. The guy, we will call him J, (or is that confusing, because Josh’s name also starts with J? J is the other guy, Josh is Josh. Got it?) was a year older than me and went to the same school. He started coming to my church because he had a crush on another girl in his class that also went to my church, Joanna Smith. (I just totally name dropped there because Joanna is now in Nashville making her name as a country music singer/songwriter!!!) Anyway, God had other plans for him, though, and he accepted Christ as Savior and therefore continued attending church even if his crush on Joanna ended. So, since this is Josh’s story, not J’s, we will just say that he and I started “going out” (which confuses my parents because that means something totally different to them than it does to me,) and we dated for about 10 months. Was I in love with him? I would say yes. Before you get your panties in a wad because I say I was “in love” at 14, let me say a couple things. First off, the biblical meaning of love is to act on the behalf of a person. Love is not a feeling, it is an action and an attitude. And I think even teenagers can accomplish that. Also, I think that a person’s love is only mature as the person who is loving. So I may have loved him, but was my love for him as deep and as sincere as the love I have for my husband now? Absolutely not!!!!!!
Anyway, now we get to Josh! While I was dating J, my best friend at the time, Erika, was invited to go on an overnight trip with her church’s youth group. She had not been going to the church very long and hadn’t made a lot of friends, so she asked if I would go along on the trip to keep her company in case nobody wanted to hang out with her. Always glad for a reason to skip a day of school that my parents allowed, I did, and that is how I met Josh. At the time, he, of course, was 20, but it was a really small church and the youth group and college kids typically hung out together, so several college kids, including Josh, went on the trip as “chaperones,” even though they were really going to have fun. So I met Josh. He was fun, our personalities meshed really well, but of course, he was 6 years older than me, and I was “in love” with my boyfriend, so that is as far as that went. We met March of 01.
I saw Josh a couple more times over the coming months. We ran into each other at our town’s Relay for Life, and I introduced him to J. Then he invited J and I to a party at his house, which we went to. (Not a crazy party at all, stop thinking like that! It was like 7 people and we went swimming.)
Then, J dumped me. I think the cause was a combination of the fact that I had been getting more serious about my faith, and the fact that he really, really liked another girl who would trample on his heart a little later. Since I had convinced myself in my 15-year-old-ness that I was totally going to marry this guy, I, of course, was as devastated as a 15 year old could be. I got the break-up e-mail late the night before I was supposed to leave on a week long mission trip. I called Erika (who had recently moved away), and I e-mailed a few select people about my distress. Josh, for whatever reason, was one of them.
The rest of that summer was sort of a lonely one for me, since I no longer had J and Erika to hang out with. Josh and his family (including his great sister, Heather, who is a year older than me) sort of took me under their wing that summer. They invited me to hang out with them on a pretty regular basis. I found their family to be loud, open, and very accepting, which was a nice contrast from my quiet home. I know my parents had their doubts about me forming a friendship with Josh, but for whatever crazy reason, they let me do it, although we were always in a group environment and were most certainly not allowed to be alone on “dates.”
The fall of ’01, I did date another guy for about 3 months, B. I can definitely tell you that I was not “in love” with this one. I finally had to break up with B – it seemed essential since I would go weeks at a time without hearing from him. I figured I better break up with him when I had a chance, since I didn’t know when I would get to talk to him again! (Looking back, I realize that he probably had a couple girlfriends, but of course, I was very naive back then.)
At some point, it may have been while I was dating B, this part is a little foggy – Josh started to indicate that he had more-than-friend type feelings for me. I let him know quickly that that would not work for me due to the age difference. So then he stopped coming home from college as much for a couple months and I didn’t hear much from him. Eventually, I’m guessing, this period ended, or else the rest of the story could not happen.
So, anyway, December of ’01 was a significant time for me because God got my attention. Up until this point, I had been in sort of an experimental/rebellion phase. Although I was too chicken to REALLY rebel, I most definitely rebelled with my attitude. I was intrigued by sinful lifestyles and was not living a God-centered life. I went to a youth conference at the end of the year, and that is when God “got a hold” of me. I felt a call to ministry (not necessarily vocational, but just ministry in general,) and from that point on, I really think is when I began to mature spiritually and in my relationships.
OK, so we’ll have to fast forward to April of ’02, because I really don’t remember much of what happened between those two times, except I did almost date a few guys who ended up not working out. I rode with Josh’s mother, Heather, and her boyfriend, to go see Josh’s college campus and apartment. I do remember that a week before this happened, I was thinking about one of those guys I almost dated and how frustrated I was with him, and I thought to myself, “Maybe I should just wait on Josh!” Which is kind of funny because technically it would be him waiting on me. But I think that shows that all along, I knew that Josh and I were the perfect match for each other and would, one way or another, end up together. (I know, that’s mushy.)
So, ANYWAY, we’re going to see Josh’s apartment, and Josh and I had a really good time that day. It was like a light turned on in my head and I realized that I DID like him in a romantic sense, I just had suppressed that idea because of the age difference. At the end of the day (I’m embarrassed to type this because I know my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are reading this, but it’s kind of an essential part of the story, and we’ve been married for almost five years so I don’t think I could get in trouble) we kissed. Hear me out here, if you are 15, DO NOT KISS A 21 YEAR OLD!!! The chances of it being a good thing for you are slim to none!!! In fact, as much as I love taking kissing engagement pictures, I would definitely advocate waiting until marriage to kiss to save you heart ache and physical temptation. Got it?
But this was definitely a turning point in our relationship. We could not technically date because of my parents (wise) restrictions. But from this point on we did not date other people, and we were pretty much a couple although not technically. Being very marriage minded, I sort of assumed that we would skip the dating part all together. After I graduated high school, we would just go ahead and get engaged. So I was very surprised when, in the fall of ’02, when I was a junior in high school, Josh told me he was thinking about asking my dad if we could be an official couple. Which he did. And my dad said yes…hesitantly.
So October 26th, ’02, we became official, although we had really been a couple for 6 months. Josh took me to the homecoming dance. It’s a good thing we “started” dating when we did, because a month later, I was in a car accident that left me with a broken ankle, and it would have been hard to hide that we were a couple-pretending-to-not-be-a-couple after that.
Alright, so let’s continue to fast forward, shall we. The first 6 months of our relationship was long distance. Josh was in college 2 hours away, but he came home majority of weekends, so we definitely saw each other. May of ’03, he graduated college and moved home to work. We actually worked together that summer for a crop duster, so we saw each other often. Josh worked for the crop duster into December of my senior year, and then he began looking for a job in his field, computers. This obviously could not be found in our small town, so he looked in the surrounding cities. He would find a job in March, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We knew we wanted to get married as soon as possible. That sounds like an extremely irrational thing for a teenager to want. I’ll let that be your call, but I think I was in my right mind. Josh actually spoke to my dad in December of ’03 asking for permission for my hand in marriage. He wanted to be able to propose in March on the date that we had met each other. My dad told him basically that we could, eventually, get married, but he did not want me to get engaged until I finished high school. (I have to say here that my dad is a brave man. He is a minister and most people would expect him to give Josh the boot for asking this question while I was still in high school. But he didn’t. He heard him out and respectfully considered it. I know he probably got some flak for letting me get married so early.) Josh went to a jeweler in town and they started designing a ring together. Of course I didn’t know that.
After a few similar conversations with Dad, Josh knew that he had to wait until my graduation day to propose. And he did. He proposed the night after I graduated from high school! There wasn’t anything particularly amazing about the proposal, but that’s OK, there didn’t need to be.
I left a week after we got engaged for the summer to work at a camp 6 hours away. So we did not set the wedding date or start any planning at that point. We just enjoyed being engaged, and man, I’m glad we had that time, because I did not enjoy planning a wedding. (Which is crazy, I would love to plan one now!)
My parents had several stipulations on us getting engaged. One was that we would wait an entire year before we got married. Another was that I would, under no circumstances, job out of college until I got my bachelors. Which was reasonable since they agreed to fund my bachelors tuition even after we got married.
Since we had to wait a year, we decided to get married the next summer. We picked June 18th, it’s the day after my parent’s anniversary, and would work well with my class schedule. I would have a month after classes ended at home to work on the wedding, and about 6 weeks after the wedding to adjust to marriage before starting back to school.
I’ll admit my first year of college was a little miserable. I worked at Subway my first semester, and a lot of my work was on weekends, which limited my time seeing family and Josh. The second semester I worked an on-campus job and that was considerably better, but then I was deep into wedding planning which I did not alway enjoy. I also got sick a lot, I guess due to the communal dorm life. Josh was still living with his parents, which was about an hour and 15 minutes from my school. He was working in a city about halfway between my college and home, and he was taking seminary classes at my college. Which means I would see him once a week, but then we would stay up way too late hanging out, and he would have to drive a long way home, and get up in the morning and go to work. One thing I can say about getting married is you get a lot more sleep!
Anyway, so that brings us to where this blog started. I am not exactly sure of what all I wrote about back then, and I’m not planning to look back and find out right this minute. But this gives you an idea of where Josh and I are coming from.
I doubt anyone is still reading this looooong entry, but I will say I am SO thankful for the grace of God covering our relationship. It is not common to find the love of your life and someone who loves God even more than you do at such a young age, but that happened to me, and I do not deserve that, but I am thankful for it. It is really nice to look back at “our story” from time to time; it is so easy to get caught up in every day tediousness of raising kids and to forget where we came from.
The end…for now