The story of us is one of Grace, Hope, Redemption, and God’s promises. It’s a bit twisty and complicated (and a lot more complex than these few paragraphs are able to convey), so try to hang in there.
I (Kelly) had a wonderful childhood- loving parents, a super-awesome brother, and always had at least one animal. My parents are handy people—as far back as I can remember, we made things… beds, furniture, new walls, etc. We were a military family, so we moved a good bit, and with each new house meant new projects to work on. My maternal grandfather is a Master Carpenter, and most of the furniture that I own were made by his own two hands. I went to Baylor (sic ‘em) and graduated with a degree in Graphic Design, worked for a couple years selling lighting and appliances (in Virginia Beach), and went back to school to get my Master’s in Interior Design from VCU. From there, I moved back to Texas, where I struggled to find a job (and lost my mind in the process). While in Texas, I was super-poor (read the last sentence, where I struggled to find a job), and had a lot of really difficult and trying things happen. After attempting to force a square peg into a round hole for about 18 months, I found a job online and moved back to Virginia Beach. Ed’s been my main man basically throughout my entire single-girl adulthood (my family got him back in 1999), which is why he’s so dear to me. I dated some, but nothing ever seemed to “stick”… all the while praying for my future husband and knowing once I found him, I’d fall pretty hard and fast. I was single until I was 28—which seems like an eternity for a girl. I never lost hope that my future husband was out there… there were plenty of discouraging times when I was flying solo, though.
Jonathan is 5.5 years younger than myself… we sometimes will hear a song on the radio and I’ll say something like… “I danced to this song at Prom my Junior Year”, and J will say… “I listened to this when I was in middle school.” So we had a little time lapse. I like to consider myself a Panther… a Cougar in training. Or something like that.
Jonathan also grew up in a loving home in South Georgia (Jesup, to be exact), and moved to Augusta when he was in late elementary/ middle school. J is the youngest of three, and took his role as the younger brother/ troublemaker pretty seriously. After he moved up to Augusta, he discovered music and fell hard. He spent most of his high school career with some type of musical instrument in hand, and managed to get straightened out by the time he graduated from high school to attend UGA. J is a very determined guy- he finished college in three years at the Terry College of Business, so he could start his family. J got married right out of college to his high school/ college sweetheart. Things changed pretty quickly after getting married, and after a few years and a lot of heartache, they moved up to Virginia Beach (where her Sister and Brother in Law lived) to try to save the marriage.
I met Jonathan and his [then] wife at our Community Group (Bible Study), thought he was attractive, and recognized that he was completely off-limits (you know, with being married and all). Very very few people in our group knew what was happening between Jonathan and her (including myself), and I just figured they came once and then disappeared to find a better “fit” (not uncommon). A good friend ran in to J a couple months later, to discover that his wife had left him [permanently] to go back to Augusta, and J decided to make a go of it here in Virginia Beach. A bit later, J reemerged in the group, and started to come out of his “haze”. Haze is an appropriate word only if you understand the brokenness of a man fighting for his marriage, only to see it crash and burn (a couple of times).
Our relationship started as a very guarded friendship that consisted of seeing him only at group events. He had people over to his house a few times for grilling parties, but I always found something else to do… I never quite caught on that there was possible interest on his part.
After getting more comfortable around him and chatting here and there, lo and behold, I lost all the contacts in my phone and sent an email to the group asking them to send me their numbers. And wouldn’t you know, he sent me his. A few weeks after that, I organized a group event to go watch the kickoff Christmas parade in downtown Norfolk (I’m a sucker for Santa). But wouldn’t you know?? Everyone bailed. Except for him. We went anyway. We had dinner and walked to the parade. Then we met up with friends for ice cream. Then we watched a movie. 14 hours later and staying up all night talking, we ended our first date. Similar to the first, our second date lasted 12 hours. We broached all the subjects- divorce, faith, life, dreams… we delved right in.
I was fairly certain about him within a couple of weeks. I fell hard and quickly for him… but I also knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road. Divorce leaves none unscathed. There were wounds to heal, families to consult, and feelings to sort through. But I knew—and he knew—this relationship was worth it. We focused our hearts on Christ, and we proceeded forward. We knew, despite the timing of it all, despite each of our pasts, despite the situations that seemed too messy, this love story was meant to be.
9 months to the day after our first date, we married under a shady oak tree in the presence of our friends and families. We threw a party and celebrated the grace bestowed upon us and the redemption of broken hearts.