Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Story

5 married-years later...Do you know this all started in 2006? 

This is a very long story, so if you're going to read it all, you may want to grab a cup of coffee and a snack.  :-)

Yes, the our story (the story of my husband and me) started the summer of '06.  We were camp counselors at the WILDs Christian Camp and Conference Center.  I knew his brother from college and one of his good friends, Robert. 

Having known his brother, when I first was introduced to Jer, I was a little taken back, because he was SO different.  From his looks to his personality to his heart, he was night and day different. 

I didn't get to know him well that summer but I found out later that he thought I was loud and crazy-- "keep me away from her."  :-)

He wasn't my style either.  I thought he was nerdy.  :-) ...later on I found out that he was more of a "jock" than a "nerd" but I still wasn't interested. 

One thing that did touch my heart was this--during one of the camp weeks, my brother-counselor was having a hard time getting our group to cheer so Jer got his group together and cheered along with us to support us.  That mattered more than "competition".

The summer ended and I went back to college--who do you think showed up?  Yep, my future hubby.  He had gone to community college for 2 years and then transferred to my college.  So, a bunch of us from the WILDS started hanging out.  We would sit together in classes, at chapel, and at lunch and "terrorize" each other the whole time.  I was the only girl in the group.  I think they forgot that half of the time.  When people would comment on it, they would say "it's just Joy."  I would tease them and they would tease me back.  I remember when Jer would come to lunch from class and would drop a stack of books on my head as a joke.  I never told him that I had back or neck problems; I would just get him back later.  This was my relationship with all these guys.  I was never romantically interested in any of them. Not for more than a second.  I knew that they would all make great husbands, but not mine. 

Most of the guys had girlfriends; most of them came to me at different times asking advice or tips regarding their girls.  I was just like a sister to them.  In fact, when Jer showed up at college, he had just asked a sweet girl to date him; their relationship went on for 3 years.  I remember when they decided that they were ready to get married.  I remember when he showed me the ring and told me the plans of how he was going to ask her.  He held on to that ring for a YEAR.  He never gave it to her.

Meanwhile, during that time, I dated other guys outside the group--and during my college years, I had my heart broken twice.  After the 2nd time, I decided that I was content to be single.  So in 2008, I spent the summer in Africa, fell in love with it, and decided to go back and be a teacher there.

My parents, however, knew that I had always wanted a family; they started praying that I would fall in love with someone who was a friend first. They knew it would be hard for me to trust again. 

Toward the end of that year,  Jer and his girlfriend were starting to see that they were probably not meant for each other.  There were too many things that were not matching up, and since they were long distance, it put a strain on their relationship.

Now, Jer and I had always been friends but that last semester we got really close.  We had always had fun but it was a little different.  We had a blast!  We had planned to go to Gatlinburg with some friends at the end of the semester, but I canceled it because I felt like he needed to work on his relationship with his almost-fiance. 

...and he did.  He called her and talked many of the issues out, but a few days later she came back with "Let's take a month off."  The whole thing was strange but they needed to figure out if they should get married or break up.  There was no in-between.  So they decided to take a break during the month of December. 

During that Christmas break, Jer and I spent a lot of time talking.  I still felt like he was "safe" to talk to because, in my mind, he was still going to marry his fiance' and I was going to go to Africa.

It didn't help that the job I had forced me to travel a lot--so I would talk to him while I was driving.  I remember calling other friends that December and NO ONE answered their phone except for him. 

So we talked and really got to know the core of each other. We shared a lot of our beliefs and ideas but nothing more. We were simply just friends who enjoyed talking to each other.  

At the end of that month, Jer called his girlfriend.  It was mutual--they both knew that it just wasn't meant to be. They ended on a friendly note.

Over break, our families kept asking questions.  My mom was my confidant, so she had known about our friendship.  She told me that, when she heard that Jer and his girlfriend were going through a rocky time, she had started praying that they would break up, if we were supposed to be together. 

When I heard that, I got scared.  I felt that Jer would never be more than an amazing friend.  I was so scared of letting another guy into my heart.  I was scared that he would reject me when he really got to know me.   I was just scared in general. 

I was back at school when I heard that Jer broke things off.  I think I went numb.  I didn't know how to react.  When he came back to school from break, I avoided him like the plague. 

They had a special conference at our school the first week back and it seemed like EVERY speaker was talking about Africa.  It seemed like the Lord was calling me back there.  I had such a desire!  Isn’t it true that desire and God’s will are the same?  Not always.

So I just talked to God.  I told Him I need a verse.  I felt like Jacob when he was wrestling with God.  Oh, did I need Him!  On January 13th, I started reading at the beginning of Matthew.  I was going to read until God spoke to me. 

I came to Matthew 10:5-6 "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Jesus was speaking to his disciples who were Jewish.  I felt him prick my heart when I read that verse. "Joy, I want you to go to your people, America."  I knew then that He was asking me to stay in the United States.  I knew that Africa's door closed for me that day.

I talked to my parents and knew that they had been praying for us.  They didn’t want me to get hurt, but when they saw this all unfold, it seemed like God’s will. My dad encouraged me to give Jer a chance. To at least be open to the idea. 

So the next Saturday, Jer asked me to talk to him. He made it clear that he wanted to pursue a relationship. 

We both felt like God was writing our story. 

I had peace about our relationship, but my heart was still not in it. I  loved Jer as a friend, but I still couldn't see a romantic relationship.  Jer could make me smile and laugh like no one else but I wasn't quite sure it could ever be more than that. 

I knew that if everyone else saw "something" and, if my parents had prayed about it, I should at least give it a try.  I am so glad I did! 

A few days later (Tuesday), I came out to my car and there was a beautiful rose.  My heart stopped.  I couldn’t believe it.  God was already at work on my heart.  I was a little scared because I wasn’t sure I was ready for all this; slowly but surely, he started winning me over.  I started to trust him. 

Over the next month, I talked a lot to God.  Then Jer and I started praying together.  The closer we got to God, the closer we got to each other. 

I had always wanted to be able to turn to my guy for spiritual advice.  I wanted someone like my dad, wise and godly.  Over those next weeks I started falling in love with Jeremy.  It wasn't long before I knew that we had something special. 

On February 14, 2009, Jeremy asked me to be his girlfriend.  I gladly said yes.  He had my heart and there was NO other man that I wanted.  A few months later, he gave me a promise ring and told me that he had peace about marrying me.  Then on July 3, 2009, over a loud speaker he called me to come to the middle of the ballfield at the WILDS...and in front of around 200 people, he got down on his knees with Gerbera daisies and asked me to be his wife.

A year later, on May 28, 2010 we were married in Oak Ridge, TN.  Two years later on May 25, 2012 we welcomed a handsome baby boy and another  two years later, on May 29, 2014,  our sweet baby girl arrived.

It has been a journey!  We have learned a lot of lessons.  We have had some bumps.  We have grown together.  It's been friendship on fire.  I am so blessed that God saw fit to give me such an amazing man.  He is my dream come true!  I love you, JT! - Rejoicing in the Present

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