To get started, there is a little backround you need to know behind this story. I grew up in Daphne, Alabama and moved to Texas in May 2007 to work at Camp Tejas for the summer. I wound up falling in love with camp ministry and so decided to stay and intern for the year. Best year of my life. In Summer of 2008, Ryan joined the summer staff. I had never had a boyfriend before. I had never been kissed. I prayed for Ryan for about 4 months before I met him. I just had a feeling. Okay, here we go.
Ryan came onto summer staff in May 2008. My best friend Meredith had just driven in from San Antonio for our last weekend off before summer started. As soon as we drove in, the first people we met were Ryan and a few of his friends from back home in Pasadena. As soon as I saw him, I looked at Mer and told her I thought he as so cute! Then we introduced ourselves, I realized he was RYAN FLETCHER, the RYAN I had been thinking about for 4 months, and I loved his name. I pretty much made a fool out of myself right there by being overly loud and excited, but oh well.
This is that boy that I met:
|Isn't he so HOT? haha|
And, this is the girl He met. I know, go ahead and say it, I should be a model, I know.
|I thought it would be awesome to model some cool clothes we found at a clothes closet we were working at.|
The first 2 weeks of summer camp are training weeks, and after the training weeks we had a day off. I should go ahead and let you know that the camp we were working at is a Christian camp. One of the many rules that we were asked to follow as summer staff was a no dating policy. Basically, there should be no one on one girl/guy hang time, no off campus dates, no phone conversations, etc. The point in being at camp is to strengthen your walk with the Lord and serve others. Not to date. After 2 weeks of training, I knew already I liked Ryan. He was such an amazing man, the way he served, the way he made me people laugh, his intensity, I mean, the man was amazing.
So, our day off came and a bunch of us planned a trip to the river to go tubing. The girls all piled into one car and the guys piled into the other. The whole way there to the river all I could think about was that I was about to spend the next 8 hours floating down the river with my best friends and the guy I like. I was basically on cloud 9.
Once we got on the river, Ryan had forgotten his sunglasses and so I let him wear my Costas while I would wear a pair of my giant sunglasses. As soon as we got in the water, he lost my Costas. Those are like $200 sunglasses. You know what? I was kind of sad that they were gone, but because Ryan was the one to lose them, I didn't even care. haha!
As we floated down the river, we all got to laugh and chill and just enjoy each others company. It was such an awesome day. We all got to one part in the river where there was a shoot and we all kind of got seperated, except for Ryan and I. We hooked on to eachothers tubes and floated together for about 20 mintues and got lsot in conversation. I will never forget that first real deep conversation with him.
After tubing all day, we all went to Olive Garden and then headed home to the camp.
Then the summer officially started.
The night after we went tubing I got an email from Ryan. It was about 2 pages long and changed my life.
He poured encouragement into me like no one had ever done for me before. He challenged me to be the woman that Christ called to be. It was such an amazing thing to be friends with a man who valued me, who didn't take advantage of me, who didn't walk all over me, who was thankful to be friends with me as well. After I read that frist letter my heart was forever changed. I knew right then and there that Ryan Fletcher would be in my life forever.
The summer went by with a letter every day from him. I resonded and he would write back. We would almost NEVER talk in public though. Our bosses knew what was going on, they were some of my closest friends. All summer we tried our hardest to follow rules.
Toward the end of July, Ryan left the camp to go to Germany for 2 weeks. It would be the first time all summer that we wouldnt talk at all. When he left, I acutally cried. Alone, of course. I was so sad to see him go. I felt like He was my best friend.
|This is the only picture I have of us from the summer. :(|
2 weeks later, he was back. I didnt get a letter or a hello or anything for the first few days he was back. I thought while he was gone all his feelings had changed. Then, my accountability partner, who was his team leader, reminded me of the camp policies and told me not to worry, that Ryan was just trying to be safe. Then, I started to get letters again.
Ryan didn't ask for my number.
We said goodbye.
I was so sad.
I thought it was real, and then he didn't even ask for my number.
I got home to my grandparents in Brenham.
I was home for about 3 hours and then I got a phone call.
It was Ryan.
He got my number off the camp directory list.
He asked me to come to College Station for dinner with everyone.
I was flying out to Alabama the next morning and needed to pack.
That was it.
The next week was spent with me in Bama with my family and friends and him here. We talked on the the phone every night for at least 2 hours. It was such a great time of getting to know each other more.
I got home the next week and moved to College Station on a Monday.
On Tuesday I got a phone call from R to see if I would like to grab coffee.
We went to Sweet Eugene's and had coffee and talked for 3 hours! Then, we headed to Breakaway.
Ryan held my hand for the first time.
A week later Ryan came over for breakfast, asked me on our first official "big date".
He was supposed to pick me up at 4pm. Ryan used to ALWAYS be late. He didn't get there until 5:30. So, an hour and a half late, he shows up. I'm a little flustered. I open the door to the most handsome man I had ever seen, holding a dozen white roses. He took my breath away.
I put them in a vase and we rushed off.
I had NO CLUE where we were going.
It was sunset.
We drove and drove and drove.
Frank Sinatra was our soundtrack.
We wound up in Austin on 6th street at a little restaurant called "Z-Tejas".
After dinner, we went to Zilker Park and Ryan turned up some Frank and we danced under the stars in the park. It was so super romantic.
Then as we are dancing Ryan whispers in my ear that he is falling in love with me.
I say I love you back.
We kiss for the first time.
My first one ever.
|College Station, a little obsessed with my Mac at that point.|
After that date, I was pretty much done for. I loved harder than I could of imagined and felt like Ryan was a gift straight from God.
Ryan took me to meet his parents the next weekend.
|I feel like we look like babies.|
Then I got invited to his sisters wedding.
|This is one of my favorite pictures ever of us. .|
The next few months were very interesting.
I moved away from College Station, I hated it.
I got an internship at a mega church in Houston and moved here in November 2008.
Ryan and I were finally in the same city.
Ryan joined the same internship I did in January.
He moved into the same complex I lived in.
We saw each other every single day.
I thought it would be great. He thought it would be great.
We had moved way to fast.
Things started to scare me.
I started to care more about what other people thought about us.
I cared less about what I was feeling.
So, I broke it off in May 2009.
It was one of the hardest things I had ever done.
I didn't do it right either.
I played with Ryan's heart.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Bless his heart.
He was persistent.
He would still pursue me and love me through the entire year we were broken up.
I went through some rebellion.
I didn't date any one else.
I just went through a very different season of growth.
I graduated from Cosmetology School.
I went back to work at Camp Tejas for the summer of 2010.
So did Ryan.
We weren't exactly speaking any more.
I hurt him pretty bad and he was healing and so he really didn't want to be my friend.
Then, one day he came up to me at camp and told me he liked another girl, was thinking of pursuing her and wanted me to know before I found out from someone else.
Lets just say, I didn't like that to much.
|This is the day after he told me he liked another girl. ;)|
I thought and prayed and talked to some of my mentors for a while and Ryan and I realized that we were still very much in love.
3 weeks later, summer ended.
We skipped the last day party and headed to Houston to see and Astros game.
|First date back together. :)|
|Playing in one of the museams.|
We were back. I was really nervous to let any one know that we had gotten back together, but this time it felt so different. We had both grown up so much. We knew what we wanted. So, I let those who needed to know, know. He, the same. We chose to live our lives with our intent on Christ and no one else. I'm not saying we perfected it, and we messed up a lot. It was/is hard to be in a relationship. But, the 9 months after that first date were perfect. I fell more in love with Ryan and was constantly reminded of the gift Christ had given me.
May 23, 2011
|Camp Tejas Meadows Campfire|
|I naturally said, Yes! :)|
|Photo credit to Paige Meyer.|
The next few months were filled with lots of pre-marital counseling, wedding date changes, dress shopping, me changing my mind on the vision of our wedding 100 times, bridal showers, brunches, my best friend back home getting engaged and married in 8 weeks, going home 2 weeks before our wedding for her wedding, gaining weight, losing weight, hating my old job, getting a new job, moving out of my apartment, moving in with my in-laws, Ryan going through the fire academy only to be released for medical reasons a week before graduation, being jobless, having no clue what we were doing and getting married.
All that stress, all that work, all that love, was all worth it.
Every single minute.
Every single check I had to write.
Every 2nd, 3rd, 4th job I had to work.
Every long week of not seeing Ryan.
It was all worth it.
On December 10, 2011, I married the greatest man I could ever hand pick for myself. Jesus picked Him for me.
The feelings then and now are so overwhelming as I think about God's grace on us. How he redeemed us. He brought us out of darkness into light.
|Happiest day of my life.|
All praise, honor and glory to our Father, Jesus Christ for our lives and our marriage.
|On our honeymoon at The Tower of Americas|