I woke up late that morning. Overslept and didn’t hear my alarm (which is a common occurrence for me).
Luckily I made it in time to get a seat next to Josh’s family and my mom who drove four hours to support him at his graduation (a sign that this relationship was getting pretty serious). When he walked across that stage, I knew it was a turning point in our relationship. My heart pounded as the applause rang out through the crowd. Goodbye to the days of spending nearly every single day with each other. And hello to Josh moving four and a half hours away to Jacksonville, Florida where he would take on his first full-time job as a student pastor.
This is when a lot of our relationship becomes a blur to me. Why?
Because things got CRAZY. And fast.
The semester before Josh was to graduate, we sat down and had a huge discussion about the future of our relationship. We knew it was inevitable that we would be separated soon. I still had three more years of college left at this point, and for a couple who both shared the love language of quality time, we knew this was going to be difficult to sustain for too long.
So, I prayed.
And decided to graduate early.
So we only ended up spending 5 long months away from each other. The separation grew our relationship more than anything else. Hard? Incredibly. But we made it a priority to make several visits to see each other and we talked on the phone throughout the day (I would also like to point out that we dated in the days before texting and still managed to survive!) And like they say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and this was surely the case for us. :)
I took 19 hours in the fall and 21 hours in the spring to graduate in May 2007, with my AA in Music. Afterwards, I transferred to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL where Josh was working. (You see? I am such a committed girlfriend!) God worked out a place for me to live and a job right away. It was a huge leap of faith (and some people questioned if my motives to be close to Josh were too premature) but it was one I was willing to take. I believed in our relationship that much.
While living in Jacksonville, we served together at our first full-time ministry – The Fellowship @ Celebration Baptist Church (now renamed FaithBridge Church)
God really gave me a desire and love for student ministry before I ever met Josh.
I tell people this all the time, but I never wanted to grow up and leave our youth group. During my teenage years, I grew so much spiritually thanks to a wonderful student pastor who challenged me to live out my faith daily. And when I was called into the ministry at 16, I began praying for my husband. That God would protect him, guard his heart and mind, and that we would serve Him together one day.
Those prayers were answered.
And over the next several months as Josh and I went on mission trips, put on retreats and served together in that first ministry, I knew I was serving beside my future husband.
The only question now was when would he pop the question?