Matthew and I have known each other since we were 5 years old, attending the same school since kindergarten. Even though we grew up together and were in a lot of the same classes and activities, I never really noticed him until high school. Our freshman year, he started dating my best friend! They were together for a couple months but things didn’t work out. After the break up, my friend kept saying, ‘Faith, you should date Matthew!! I think you would really like him!’ I literally had never talked to the boy and thought ‘eww, Matthew?’ (haha) Anyways, I decided I would at least start talking to him. Sure enough, we clicked and we became best friends! We wrote notes in every single class we had together—I can’t even tell you how many notes and love letters we have from high school! He came to my locker after every class, we sat together at lunch, we went to the movies every weekend, we were inseparable. We did the best friend thing for months, and I was falling for him. I started getting worried that he would never ask me out! Finally, on a Wednesday night during church, he asks me to be his girlfriend. Oh, that feeling!
So we began dating in March of 2009, our sophomore year of high school. It felt like we did everything together! We went to school together, played sports together, went to church together, spent our summers together. . . It truly was my fairytale. I couldn’t have imagined a better guy. I think what made our relationship so meaningful was those months we spent becoming best friends before we began dating. We knew how to have so much fun together!
When our senior year of high school rolled around, in 2011, our relationship was very serious. We had spent 2 years together, never broke up, were faithful to each other, but we knew high school was coming to an end. . . When I started dating—especially in high school—I told myself, “Faith, this is not going to be forever. It can’t be. There is no way you are going to find your husband in high school.” I was honestly prepared for us to break up because I thought, how is this really going to work? But I loved him, with all of my heart. And he loved me. Our senior year, we did a lot of soul searching. We both were trying to figure out our futures separately, but we couldn’t picture ourselves apart. We decided we were going to stay together, no matter what.
Then, Matthew dropped the biggest, most shocking news on me—he wanted to join the Coast Guard. I think my heart broke that day. I grew up in a military family—my dad and brother were both in the Army, and I saw how hard that lifestyle was and I didn’t want that for myself.
Our high school graduation came and went, and we spent that last summer as teenagers together talking about the future. We were in love, it was undeniable. I told Matthew how scared I was for him to join the Coast Guard and what being apart would do to our love, but that I wanted him forever and I would wait for him. He gave me a promise ring, and with it, the promise to come back to me—even if we didn’t know when.
The summer ended and Matt went off to boot camp while I went off to college. We spent 8 weeks only writing letters (yes, the old fashion kind that take forever to get to you). I can’t tell you how many times I ran to the mailbox every day to see if I got a letter. I wrote him every single day he was gone. I thankfully got to fly out to his graduation from boot camp, we got to spend a few weeks together and then he was off again. This time, 2,000 miles away from me.
We spent 2 years in a long distance relationship that consisted mostly of emails, some texts, a few phone calls, and seeing each other only a handful of times. Looking back, I don’t know how we did it. I attribute surviving that period of separation to God truly wanting us to be together. It sounds cliché, but we came out of that separation even stronger than before. God really developed me and strengthened me in that season, and I discovered a courage in myself that I never knew I had.
Finally, after 2 years of being apart, Matthew proposed to me! We were finally in a place where we felt like we could get married and we were overjoyed! We got engaged on December 15, 2012 and married on May 5, 2013. (yes, we only had 4 and a half months to plan the WHOLE wedding!) Matthew was still gone so I planned the wedding by myself in those 4 months and he arrived home the week of our wedding. I graduated from college on May 2nd, and we were married on the 5th. I don’t think anything about our life was “normal” at that time. We were moving in hyper speed!
So we got married, went on our honeymoon, then Matthew had to go to a school for 3 months. Yes, we spent the first 3 months of married life apart. While he was away, I was busy packing up our belongings preparing to move to our new home when he returned. When he came back, we moved 1,000 miles away from the homes we both grew up in, all our family and friends, and started a new life together as husband and wife.
The road has definitely been hard, as family is my heart, and I miss our families every day. But being able to finally be together, do life together, explore together, and discover together has been the most rewarding part of it all. Being so far away from everything we ever knew grew our hearts even closer together; because, we had to depend on each other for everything.
Two years after our wedding day, we got pregnant with our first baby! I found out I was pregnant in May of 2015, and Avary Layne was born in January of 2016. She is our light and our joy, and she made me a mama—the greatest gift I’ve ever been given!
I don’t know what the future holds for Matthew, Avary and I (hopefully more babies and more adventures), but we are loving this season of parenthood!