WELCOME TO THE STORY OF “US”
Updated: Apr 1
I’ve been feeling mushy gushy lately, so I’ve decided to share my love story with you all. I always love it when people ask what our story is because I’m a sucker for romance novels. I’ve read every one of Nicholas Sparks’s books, but our love story is my favorite.
Braton and I grew up in the same church together in small town Oklahoma. I always had a crush on him, but he claims to have never noticed me until I told my friend to tell him I liked him at Vacation Bible School in 6th grade.
He was a helper because he was an older man, a SEVENTH GRADER! Gasp! I was still a student in VBS classes because I was in 6th grade… He came and sat by me occasionally throughout that week while we were singing VBS songs or at snack time.
I remember we sang the song “Jesus is a Friend”, and there was a verse that sang “give a friend a hug, give a hug next to ya, give a friend a hug, and sing along”. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was our very first hug. Thus beginning our love affair.
A month or so later he asked me to be his girlfriend. It was the middle of the Summer, and I was transitioning from a small rural school to his school. I was thankful to go into that year with at least a couple of familiar faces.
Over the next year, I would text him off of my mom’s phone because I didn’t have one, and we would have movie parties at our church with all of our friends just so we could hang out together. However, as you might expect from a Middle School relationship, there was rarely any verbal communication because that’s just awkward.
He broke up with me just before Christmas after taking his Gramps' advice to ditch a girl before you have to buy her a gift. Then we resumed our relationship in January. LOL, thanks Gramps.
That next Summer, as he was about to go into High School and leave me behind in Middle School, I broke up with him. Not because he was leaving, but because he ALMOST touched my butt. Whether it was on purpose or an accident, I still do not know. I was a young lady with morals, and that was not cool, Braton. Not cool.
So we went our separate ways for 2 and 1/2 years, all the while discretely keeping tabs on who the other was with.
Somewhere in between that 2 and 1/2 years he actually asked me to be his girlfriend again at a New Year’s Eve party, but I denied him. I would’ve said yes, but his idea of asking me was “so, since everybody’s saying we should go out, do you think we should just do it?” Ummmmm, no. Maybe I was a little harsh, but I had higher standards than that. Sorry Braton!
So finally, during my sophomore year of High School, we started talking again. It was Christmas break and our moms made us work at the gate for Crystal Christmas together for National Honor Society service hours.
We sat in that little shed with the space heater talking for hours, only pausing to hand out flyers and 3D glasses to the occasional guest. It’s funny that our relationship really began through conversation on this night, because we had never been the conversationalists before. But we talked and talked and talked. We relived some of our glory days in Middle School, finally being mature enough to talk about how awkward they were.
In late January Braton asked me to be his girlfriend for the final time on our way back from off campus lunch at McDonalds, and I said "yes."
Throughout the remainder of our High School years we fell madly in love. We went to school dances together. I painted his number on my face for football & basketball games. He cheered me on at pageants & dance competitions.
We had our special places around town where we would park to talk about life, aaaaaaand eventually have a make out session. We learned to two-step together (now, a favorite hobby of ours). We endured a prom night together in a basement, still in our tux and gown, while a tornado ripped through our town. We attended church camps together, and challenged each other spiritually.
We went to the drive-in movie theater together. We had MANY sno-cone dates. We went hunting, fishing, and hiking together. We spent the holidays together, and went on family vacations with each other. We wrote love letters, and left surprise gifts in each other’s lockers. We had a lot of laughs, made a lot of memories, and took a lot of pictures.
AND THEN HE GRADUATED.
Looking back, him leaving me behind to go to college was definitely not the worst thing that could have happened. But at the time, it felt like it. I did have an amazing Senior year with friends, but my heart was always somewhere else…
He was only an hour and a half away, but my parents wouldn’t let me go visit him overnight. So he drove back every weekend to see me. Breaking up was never an option for us. That year was hard on both of us though, and I think we both probably cried a lot. I know I did.
However, Braton’s Gram told us, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, and she was right. Up until that year, we had never dealt with anything hard in our relationship, and I believe it brought us closer than ever.
That year we started to talk more seriously about marriage and imagine what our futures would look like. We always knew we would end up together, but we started making real plans with a timeline. We dreamed a lot. We designed a dream home, made a bucket list, and decided how many kids we wanted to have. It was picture perfect.
When my High School graduation finally came around, I was more than ready to spread my wings and fly. I knew that no matter what my future held, Braton would be by my side, and that’s all that mattered to me.
Our college years did us good. Our parents suggested we wait to get married until both of us had at least a year of college under our belts, and that was probably a good idea. Although I think we would’ve been just fine no matter what.
In college, we slept in separate apartments, but that’s about it. We did everything together. We bought groceries, and cooked every meal together (usually Raman or Hamburger Helper). We took classes together. We learned to scuba dive together. We made new friends together. We established ourselves in a new church together. We learned to be adults, and manage our finances together. College, was definitely more challenging for the both of us in a number of ways, but at least we were together again.
We ended up spending 2 years in college together before we FINALLY got married. Our wedding was perfect, and everything we had always dreamed of. We had old friends and new friends and both of our families together, and we danced the night away.
Marriage came with its own set of challenges, of course. But ultimately, it was a dream come true. We had spent so many years dreaming of the day when we would get to wake up next to each other every morning, and it was finally happening.
Since being married we have had the opportunity to grow closer than ever before. We’ve learned how to make our own way in this world. We’ve traveled together. We’ve taken care of each other when one of us was sick. We have lived in 2 homes together. We have added a second fur baby to our family. We have lost a baby to miscarriage. We got pregnant again and I gave birth to our son, River.
We have been stumbling onto God’s callings for our lives as we grow, and are blindly, but faithfully, pursuing them.
In late 2019, we became foster parents. This is something I have felt convicted to do since I was in middle school, and after explaining my heart for it to Braton, he said, "Let's do it."
Our first dance at our wedding was to “Then” by Brad Paisley. Brad Paisley has a special place in our hearts, and the words to that song couldn’t be more true:
“And now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world, And I just can’t believe the way I feel about you, girl. Like a river meets the sea, stronger than it’s ever been. We’ve come so far since that day, and I thought I loved you then.”
I thought I loved him in high school, but oh how my love for him has grown.
If there’s anything in my life that’s blessed with abundance, it’s my relationship with my husband. No matter what life throws at us, I know that he will be right there by my side. Always. Braton knows me inside and out. He’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. And he loves me just the same. We are better together, and I thank God for him every day.
If you are out there waiting for your love story to fall into place, I encourage you to take heart and have faith. The Lord is orchestrating your love story, and it will be oh so wonderful. ♥