i love hearing people's stories and i really love hearing how people met. maybe it's because i spent too much time in jr high wondering if today would be the day that i would meet my future husband. really it's just fun to see what draws people together and then changes their lives forever.
so in honor of our 6 year anniversary today, here's our little story.
(warning - really long and awkward pictures included)
i guess you could say it started in the womb. my parents were interviewing pediatricians for their soon to be arriving baby and as they walked out of mr. ronnie's office, apparently the cutest little blonde haired boy came toddling down the hall to see his dad.
and i lept in the womb (maybe :)
james isn't in here, but it's just a gem of a picture with grace and emily, the fickens, koonces, leighs and me - fully decked out in dress up clothes. i'm sure james had is eye on me in the get-up.
so let's fast forward to 6th grade. james was in 8th grade and we went to church together. my mom was teaching his 8th grade sunday school class, so after my class got out, i would race down to her class to then casually wait outside the room and see if i got a head nod. now we're branching from 6th grade - still not youth group at church - to 8th grade - practically considered themselves high schoolers, but james, the gentleman he was, usually gave me a very slight head nod with almost eye contact.
oh be still my beating heart.
once their class got out early and i turned the corner in the big hall upstairs and was sandwiched in between the wall and a whole line of 8th grade boys. oh the horror of embarrassment. seriously. do you remember how embarrassing everything is in 6th grade? while i tried to melt into the wall, james looked at me, game me a head nod AND a small wave. oh. my. gosh.
so jr high / high school came and i would hear things he said about me and i'm sure he heard how much of a cutie i thought he was. once he told a friend who told my friend who told me that he said i was pretty cute for my age (you know, the vast 18 months we're apart). there's also the time that he totally crashed our pcs 10th grade new years eve party with one of his oghs friends and then dissed on my boyfriend with something like, "wait, you're jessica walley's boyfriend? huh." oh the nerve. in 11th grade, us pcs-ers ventured over to an og soccer game and guess who was visiting from college (he might have brought a girl with him, but i block that part). so i look over in the stands and see him looking up at me and we totally make eye contact for like an eternity (5 seconds). it was all very movie like (in my head). after the magical moment is over, i tell my bff jills and she says,
"ya'll are totally going to get married one day."
and then things started getting serious.
the summer after 11th grade, i told God (like most girls in youth group at some point) that i wouldn't date anyone until they were serious about God and were actually willing to talk about it, but i was pretty sure i would never ever date anyone else because of this pledge. a couple sundays later, i was walking out of church and james was just standing there at the end of the isle. he had been off at college and had, thankfully, passed the phase of bleaching his hair because that was not my favorite. so i have no idea what to do because we haven't actually talked in a whole lot of actual conversations but there's no one else around and i have to pass him and then he turns around and says
...wait for it...
my first thought - great. he doesn't know my name.
so we actually talked and he told me he was working at a church camp this summer and God was teaching him so much and changing his heart and - remember that pledge about waiting for a guy who wasn't afraid to talk about what God was doing in his life? - i was done for. the crazy thing is, he was really seriously struggling and yet God still used that to bring us together.
a few weeks later, rumors started going around the youth group that james was moving back home for the next year and - thank the good Lord - they were true. he started hanging out with our group of friends and i had no idea what to talk to him about. thankfully, jills kept the conversation going. she was obviously quite instrumental in this. one sunday night a group of us were going to eat after church at a well-known place but james, very smoothly said, "hey, maybe we should exchange numbers just in case you get lost or something." whatever makes you feel cool, honey.
at the end of september, my dad was driving me and jills home from visiting State for the weekend and guess who called. we screamed and then got really quiet so i could casually answer the phone. we made small talk for a little bit and then he finally asked -
"i was wondering if you would want to go get lunch this week."
and then the call dropped.
seriously. like a movie.
should i call him back? will he try again? did he just ask me out???
so we went to mccalisters for lunch that week (i got out half day as a senior). he got a loaded potato but told me he doesn't usually eat so many carbs (ha). i got the nachos thinking that they would be easy to eat, but the bell sleeves on my awesome crocheted shirt kept sticking to the chips and dragging them into my lap. so embarrassing. good think my leather tassel belt kept me looking awesome. that night, he called and asked me to go to the movies - sweet home alabama - that friday.
and that was the beginning of the end.
do ya'll remember those wind up disposable cameras? do you remember trying to use up the last few pictures on the roll so you could go get them developed? well, after a couple weeks of hanging out, i wanted a picture of james to show my friends at school, so i got my mom to nonchalantly come in one night and say, "hey, i need to finish up this roll. why don't i just take a picture of you guys!" i'm sure he had nooo idea that i was behind it at all. and no, i didn't plan my outfit to match the couch.
four and half years later, after 3 years at state together and 1 year long distance, after lots of football games and sorority parties and movies and fun and a few serious talks thrown in there, the day i'd been dreaming about actually happened.
james had graduated and was living in hattiesburg while i was student teaching and still living in starkville. it was valentine's day and james completely surprised my by walking into my apartment that afternoon after teaching.
of course, the first thing i thought was "he's going to propose!!!"
then he informed me that we were going to grab some food at bulldog deli and then go to the state basketball game with grace. ummm.... pair that with the fact that he had just changed jobs and never mind, he'd definitely not proposing. so then we had this conversation:
james - hey, i'm going to walk down to grace's apartment to say hey. why don't you take a shower and get dressed while i'm gone and then we'll leave for the game.
me - (dressed in some sweet teacher clothes and seriously poofy, slept on hair) if we're just going to a basketball game, then i don't need to shower.
james - well, why don't you just get dressed and i'll be back.
me - im not fixing my hair if we're just going to a basketball game!
james - well i'll go see grace and you can shower.
me - ummm, no.
which left me with some awesomely poofy hair for engagement pictures. sweet.
during the game, james hardly talked to me at all. he was leaning forward and seriously focused on the game. i mean, he's not a huge sports guy and i've never seen him concentrate so hard on a basketball game! drive all the way to starkville and don't talk to me at all! my dad was in town for business and after the game, we met up with him for all of 30 seconds but then he had to "go see somebody" and left me too. sheesh! when we left, james was driving like he had never been on campus before. i don't know how many times he turned around before finally parking and suggesting a walk on the drill field - my favorite place on campus.
and then he did.
and i said yes.
grace and my dad were hiding in the bushes taking pictures and we had a sweet night calling friends and family and celebrating.
three months later on May 26, 2007 we were married.
outside. in mississippi.
james sweat through 3 shirts and the knot on his tie was soaked through, but it was absolutely beautiful and everything i had ever dreamed of.
if you had told us 6 years ago where we would be today and what we'd be doing, i wouldn't believe you. this has been one crazy adventure and it makes me so excited to see what's next.
i'm so glad to be on this adventure with him.