I first met Jesse in February of 2011 during a missions trip Rancho De Sus Niños, a ministry in Tijuana, Mexico that cares for orphaned children and serves the local community. Jesse had been working for Rancho for almost two years at that point, and for those who know her, that says so much of who she is. When I saw her across the room in La Mision, I knew I had to say hello. Right away I could tell that there was something special about her. One evening while visiting around a campfire, she sat down next to me and told me some of her dreams and life stories. She told me about how she wants to travel the world and help start other beautiful places similar to Rancho and empower people to start businesses with micro financing. I started realizing, wow, I met someone just like me, who is passionate about the same things, only she’s beautiful and sees the world with way more flare. Before I headed back to Northern California, I knew I was going to pursue Jesse with the intention of marrying her someday.
Throughout the course of the week in getting to know Jared I found him to be very intriguing. He is the most intelligent man I’ve ever met, with both sides of his brain working in such full force. He was overflowing with creative ideas and inventions, innovation and brilliance to make the world a better place. And shining through it all was his heart full of kindness and compassion for others.
As soon as he returned to California, Jared wrote and asked if he could call me sometime and send me a little something. I knew of his interest in pursuing me; however, I was a bit hesitant. With failed relationships in my past, and Jared being the first healthy, intriguing, successful, good looking man to pursue me in quite a long while, I wasn’t sure what to do. My heart was excited, yet afraid of being vulnerable and extending trust at the risk of being hurt again. I could only think of all the things that would prohibit the relationship from going any further than friendship: the hundreds of miles that separated us, his dreams to invent and innovate, and mine of traveling to the nations of the earth. I just wasn’t seeing how our lives and dreams would weave together. So I told him that he could pursue a relationship with me solely on the basis of friendship.
When Jesse said that she wanted to pursue a relationship only as friends, I have to admit my heart sank a little. Actually, it sank quite a bit and I clearly remember the voice inside saying, “oh no, not the friend box.” At that point I didn’t know exactly how our relationship was going to unfold, all I knew was that my heart said to pursue her, and however it would turn out, I was going to love her well. Ironically, my heart was also working through some of the very same things as Jesse’s was. I had also come out of failed relationships and was in the process of healing and restoration. I was relearning to trust and be vulnerable with the help of several friends and family members.
So we spent the next three months getting to know each other by writing messages back and forth and talking on the phone. We would talk about everything, asking silly random questions, sharing about life, our past experiences, as well as our hopes and dreams for the future. As time passed, our fondness and affection for one another grew. We began to see that although they were unique and different, our dreams and callings intertwined in amazing ways.
Then in May, I decided to move down to Rancho to volunteer for three months. Before I did, everyone at some point asked these questions, “Are you moving to Mexico for a woman, or is it for ministry, and is that a good idea?” What I realized is how wonderful it was to have met someone that had inspired me to move to another country, to get to know her and to pursue my dreams at the same time. So we spent another month getting to know one another in person. By this time our friendship and affection for one another had flourished and love was beginning to blossom. In July we decided to pursue one another’s hearts and relationship together.
That summer we had lots of adventures together! We so enjoyed spending quality time in person after months of long distance. There were dates to some of our favorite places like Rosarito Beach, Mexico and Coronado Island. We also had the opportunity to travel and visit family and friends in Michigan, New York City and Northern California. Traveling together was so easy and fun, which is very important for those who long to travel the world.
In September I took Jesse on a special date to San Diego. The day was thoroughly planned, with a full itinerary, maps and backup locations for just in case. It started with a mixed CD of love songs for the car ride. Then it was on to mini golf, because my sister had told me before I decide to marry a girl, I had to take her mini golfing. After, we shared lunch at a beautiful bistro. To follow was the big surprise, a hot air balloon ride over Del Mar California (actually Jesse’s really intuitive, so I only thought I surprised her). While several thousand feet in the air, I got down on my knee and asked her to marry me and she said yes! The day of surprises ended with a candlelit seaside dinner on Coronado Island.
We decided on getting married that year and planned the wedding in three weeks, all thanks to our incredible wedding coordinator Gwen Edwardson, even though there were months of arrangements ahead as I prepared to move back to California and build a life with Jared.
December 3, 2011 was crisp and clear with warm rays of sunshine cutting through the chill of the day. The presence of God was tangible as Jared and I joined our lives together forever, in the midst of family and friends who came from near and far to celebrate with us. Our hearts are full of excitement and anticipation for all of the adventures that lay ahead.
Wedding Photography by Heather Armstrong