Our story isn’t a typical one.
And it definitely hasn’t been free of curveballs, challenges and tears.
But what is has been is a beautiful image of beauty being brought out of the ashes (which gosh darn it, if that ain’t our story with EVERYTHING as we’ve been together).
Back in 2003, a 15 year old Jessica in sweatpants, messy bun, UGGs and obsessed with top 40 rap, hip hop and r&b met 17 year old Mario who was in the most fashionable Famous Stars & Straps shirt and belt, sporting his perfectly gelled curly hair and super tan skin from a tanning salon…. in January. We bonded over our mutual enjoyment of Usher’s current hit “Yeah”, but that’s pretty much as far as it went. He tried his smoothest pick up line and I immediately flashed a photo of my current boyfriend & myself in his direction and that was that.
Fast forward to 2005. 17 year old Jessica now had a MySpace (hollaaaaa html codes and top 8)… but of course, I found myself grounded on multiple occasions for staying on the phone too late and God knows what else my semi-rebellious teenage-self got into. Low & behold, Mario came across my MySpace page one faithful Friday evening (while I was grounded, of course) and read all my personalized teenage girl angst about “not needing a guy”, but still slide into my messages (HA!). After a snarky response on my end, I eventually remembered the 17 year old Famous Stars & Straps wearing guy from 2 years previous. Eventually our MySpace exchanges led to daily AIM chats (for those of you reading this thinking, what the heck?! AIM= AOL Instant Messenger).
I still remember the first time we met up in person after a month of getting to know each other online. The once perfectly gelled hair, Famous Stars & Straps, and overly tan in Winter time guy was now sporting girl jeans tighter than mine, Jack Purcells, a faded black band tee of a band I didn’t know and had a buzz cut. Pretty much the “cool guy” ensemble of most guys in 2005. He went to hardcore shows, had tattoos and had a septum piercing. Nothing like anyone I had ever dated or had a crush on before, but something about him was different and I was drawn to him. I was scared, because he was different from everything I ever knew: honest, transparent, sensitive, valued his family, passionate about his faith and treated me like a Queen. Our connection was more than physical or surface level… he wanted to get to know me, my friends & family and learn about what I loved & why. We had late night conversations about our faith and despite never wanting to hang up the phone, we had healthy boundaries.
Fast forward a year later and early on in our relationship, we were thrown a curveball when we had to go from seeing each other every couple days & talking on the phone daily to being “long distance of sorts” due to unforeseen circumstances for pretty much my whole senior year of high school. We fought for our relationship & kept it alive by writing each other almost every.single.day. Not many couples can look back at love letters written back and forth like back in the olden days. Once we were reunited 8 months later, we talked about plans of getting engaged and married…. But of course, this wasn’t The Notebook. This was real life.
After one short “break” brought on by not seeing eye-to-eye on where our relationship should end up next, we officially broke up in 2009, with no promise of getting back together in the future. At that point, I figured we weren’t meant to be together if we had broken up. Because “why would God let us break up, if we were meant to be together?” Our break up wasn’t ugly, it wasn’t messy or volatile. I never threw out his letters, his gifts or photos. For whatever reason, I held on to them, while I moved on with my life— or so I thought.
Little did I know how much our time apart would help us both grow as people, as well as help us grow in our own relationships individually with the Lord.
During our time apart, I always prayed for my future husband in a prayer journal and wrote in it periodically wondering who it was that God had for me. Every time I would meet a new guy or go on a date, I would always compare each guy to Mario— how he treated me, how he loved his family and how we were together— flaws & all. I knew that if that they didn’t measure up to my high standard of Mario, it wasn’t worth my time.
After attending a show of our favorite band, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster in early 2011— I reached out to him to catch up, tell him about band updates I had found out and see how he was doing. One text eventually led to weekly friendly coffee “meet ups” and daily “How’s your day going” text messages. During this time I had a dream that Mario and I would one day end up back together and married. It felt crazy and I remember crying as I came across an old letter from Mario from when we first broke up- telling me that he knew one day he would marry me and that he would wait for me, no matter how long. I decided to pray and wait for the Lord to move, so that it wouldn’t be of my doing if we got back together, but that I know it was truly God’s plan.
A series of events happened and we got back together literally in “the final hour” in December We knew immediately that this meant marriage, if we got back together (Our moms were BEYOND stoked!). By March, Mario proposed on the steps out front of our church in front of all of our friends and family. It was one of the best days ever!
We knew we didn’t want a long engagement and got married a little over 4 months later on August 10th, 2012! With 200+ of our friends & family present, we exchanged personalized, tearful vows, praising God for restoring what we thought had died and bringing us back together. We vowed to never throw in the towel, no matter how hard it got, regardless of feelings and to always fight for our marriage. If we only knew the weight of those vows as we would embark on one of the wildest, prayerful, self-reflecting, joyful adventures of a lifetime.
Happy 7 Years of Marriage, Mario… I love you, our life, our story and our unfolding journey a lot a lot <3