I don't feel old enough for it to have been ELEVEN years since Mike and I started dating!
Here are some pictures from the first few years we dated
Soon after we started dating, Mike was probably 16, Mike's senior picture
We were engaged in this picture. I only know this because I wore my promise ring (purity ring) on my hand until I had an engagement ring. Then I wore it on my necklace with my cross because otherwise it would look like I was already married and it only fit that one finger :) Now I wear that same promise ring on my other hand... it eventually fit! The ring I dedicated as a promise ring was also a family ring that was given to each of my siblings at the church ceremony we had after court finalizing the adoption of my first adopted sibling. It first represented the unending promise of a family. Then the promise of purity. I continue to wear it as a testament to both!
I don't have any other pic's of myself on the computer from that time...but no worries you're not missing anything LOL
Here's the first few years- condensed- of Mike's and my relationship :)
Not too many people can say that they met when they were in junior high- or that they remember the day that they met their spouse. We can! Mike had just moved to the south end of our town and was beginning junior high at a different school than all of his previous classmates. The day before school started he'd gone out on a youth group trip with friends on a boat and while treading water behind it, he kicked the propeller. If you ask him he'll tell you a great story about how he was saving a friend from an alligator and he kicked it in the mouth and that he has the scars to prove it. If you ask him. But he kicked a boat propeller :)
Anyway... he ended up having surgery as he'd sliced through the tendons on the top of his foot and was on crutches and in a cast when he went to school the SECOND day of school. That's the day we met.
Though it was also my second day in school, I'm the third of then four children (later added 2 more through adoption) and the teachers all knew 'of' me and knew my sister and brother. So they kind of figured I'd be ok with carrying a kid no one knew's backpack around school. Mike and I were in a lot of the same classes and because they were upper level classes we got to meet in the portables. Not sure why that is, but all of our classes were out there! Anyway, I spent the first week of junior high carrying Mike's bag around school for him.
Mike somehow weaseled his way into convincing me that he needed help with some school work that he hadn't caught on to after missing a day here and there of school because of his foot so he came over to the house. I remember sitting outside talking when he asked to go out with him. In fact, it was at the same house we now live in :) Of course I said yes... what else was I going to say? But when I saw him the next day I told him no, I didn't really want to go out. Our first dating relationship lasted less than 24 hours... and we never did 'go out'!
The next three years we were in classes together and saw each other often. We weren't enemies, we just weren't friends. Mike had a way about him... he was a junior high boy! It was annoying :) Later that same year I was sitting on the bench at a basketball game (I was on the school team) and I had a brace on one ankle from an injury the prior year that needed support for me to run. The ball came at me along with all the players and one of them landed on... my GOOD leg. I ended up having a bruised bone (didn't even know that was possible) and I was on crutches for 2 weeks with a brace on BOTH feet.
When walking around campus (I carried my own bag or had a girlfriend do it for me ;) ) Mike would often come up behind me and try to kick my crutches out or would kick my good foot out from under me. Of course all in good fun. He was a junior high boy... Then in 9th grade I ended up with another cast on my foot from reinjuring the foot I'd hurt in 6th grade. Mike sat behind me in geometry class at the high school that year and would color on my looong hair- one strand at a time- with his ball point pen. Junior high was over, but he was still a boy :)
In 10th grade we had just begun a new set of classes when I saw Mike coming up to the front office on crutches, his foot in a cast. I wasn't a friend, he wasn't someone I talked to often, but I was not going to ignore him and I asked what had happened. At a football game he was the first on a tackle and when everyone else landed on him his foot made like a fist- he'd dislocated every one of his metatarsals on his foot. Surgery and lots of pins later he was back at school. At least he had a good story this time :) That same day in our math class with Mr. Davis Mike came into class late after hobbling up the stairs. After all, you have to wait 20 minutes to get someone to come with a key to the elevator and it was on the second story.
So Mr. Davis, kind man that he was, knew my family. In fact, he had my parents in school before having my brother, then my sister, and now- in this new set of classes- he had me. Well, Mr. Davis knew that I would be willing to be helpful to another student and yes, he asked me to carry Mike's backpack and to get the administrator for the elevator key after class. We joke about it now, but I do wonder how much Mike paid for the teachers to get me to carry his bag... what are the chances that two teachers at two different schools would both ask me to carry his bag when he hurt himself twice? Hmm...
Well, this was it and it was what got Mike and I talking. We hung out for several months after that- always with groups and with friends. He had his driver's license but wasn't allowed to drive because of his foot for a long time. We met up at a town 'haunted house' once when a girlfriend, her boyfriend, and I had gone. He ended up jumping over with us from the group he'd come with and we all hung out for a while after. One of the only times in my life that I've gone TPing, but we did that night, we got one of my neighbor's houses and Mike hopped everywhere with his cast on. We all jumped back in the car and Mike's crutch hit the roof of the car making a 'bang' sound. With that the person driving thought the car door had closed and started to drive away with Mike hanging on for dear life trying to climb in the car.
From that time on Mike started asking me if I wanted to go out. "NO." How about here? "NO." How about this? "NO." How about... finally, about 3 weeks later, he'd gotten his cast off and asked if he could take me down to the bowling alley, we'd play pool, just hang out (though my parents despised the term!). I finally caved and thought that if I went with him just once that maybe he'd leave me alone!
He didn't :) In fact, after we played pool that night we walked back out to the car and he leaned over and kissed me. Then he looked at me and said "So, you want to go out?" Hmm... nothing like being cornered!! What can you say after a guy kisses you? "Um... no, not really!" So of course, I said "ok". And I knew better than to find him at school the next day and say "well, not really..." AGAIN. I do remember having the thought go through my head that night that I could 'go out' with him for a few months and then we'd call it off and maybe... MAYBE... he'd leave me alone for a while.
I'm so very glad that neither Mike nor God were so easily swayed! From day one of our dating relationship we have never looked back. Never said "no, not really". Never taken a break from dating to see what else was out there. Never stood to the side and said "this isn't right." Never questioned that God was at work in our lives and our relationship.
THE THING that has kept our relationship together and strong is our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His power in our lives. One year before we started dating I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. A few months after we started dating Mike rededicated his life to the Lord. Our faith always has- and always will- be the backbone of our relationship and eleven years after that first kiss... I can say without a doubt that I'm so very blessed to have been pursued. Both by a God who loves each one of us and pursues us to become His children and accept the forgiveness that His Son Jesus bought with his life's sacrifice and resurrection, and by a loving and Godly man that lives to put his Heavenly Father first, his family second, and himself third.
Counting my blessings today and every day. If you haven't already surrendered and said "I'll try this for a time" to God... realize He's pursuing you, and He won't give up just because you tell him no over and over again. Not only that, once you say 'yes', you'll never WANT to turn back and you'll be grateful for the new love story that He builds in your life. Courting the Savior is a wonderful thing.
Our wedding day, July 14, 2001