The first time I ever saw Josie was at my sister's piano recital where Josie was also playing. I remember being floored by Josie’s beauty and spunky personality from the first time I met her, but we were nothing more than acquaintances for the next year.
The following summer 2015, we saw each other at a church service. Josie walked by me after the service, pretending not to see me. I shouted out, "Josie Bates, my best friend!" She spun around and came over and we talked for the rest of the evening! I asked her for her number, and as we drove off in our separate cars that night, I was pumped that I had such a great conversation with her. I had initially joked about being her best friend, but now I found myself wishing I could make that statement come true. We found many opportunities over the next months to hang out and learn about each other. When I headed off to college in the fall, we had a conversation where we both said, "It's crazy that we made the joke about being best friends early in the summer, because now, we are really becoming best friends" <3
Although this time in our lives was a fun and exciting adventure, we had many life lessons to learn in order to fully appreciate each other. As often happens in life, God had different plans than we had, and we would need to grow closer to Him before we could grow closer to each other. When the semester started, Josie and I introduced Bobby and Tori to each other and their relationship quickly flamed. Within months, Bobby and Tori were in a full-fledged relationship while mine and Josie’s relationship seemed to lag behind. Josie and her parents both felt that she was a bit too young for a serious relationship. Late that semester, Josie ended our friendship and I thought there was no chance of a future together. I was crushed. I had never met a girl like Josie, and I couldn't understand what God was doing or why Josie had ended what was just beginning. For a year we didn't talk or see each other. I was hurt, and didn't even want to come near the Bates Family, even when Bobby came to town to visit Tori. Having my best friend Bobby dating Josie’s sister made it so much worse than I could've imagined, because every time he talked about Tori, it made me feel rejected by Josie. Encouragement from my father helped me. He said, “Son, whether Josie is right for you in the long run or another girl is right for you in the long run, there is only one course of action. You cannot be stuck on her when you cannot have her. You must move on.” I moved on. I learned humility. I grew in my relationship with the Lord. I focused on my studies. I pumped iron. (Sometimes in life, things happen which are totally out of your control and make no sense till you are incapacitated with discouragement. When these things happen, you can either succumb to the pain and become bitter, or you can use it to fuel your relationship with Christ and focus on becoming a better person through His power.)
A year later, I was heading back for my senior year of school. I said to my Father before that semester started, "Dad, I really want to find a girl just like Josie who was actually my best friend and who liked me for the right reasons." Here is the only problem with that statement..There are NO other girls like Josie! She is the only one and there will never be another girl like her. That’s why I was so stuck on her then and will be forever! We were now at a season in our lives where God had taught us many lessons and prepared us for each other.
The Bates family came down for Bobby and Tori to begin their courtship and I was invited over to their beach rental. My previously hardened heart was prepared to go over and forget the past hurt, and just try to enjoy the celebration with Bobby and Tori. It was the best decision of my life. If my heart had not been humbled enough to forgive, then I would not have been ready to receive the ultimate blessing which the Lord had for us. Josie and I talked cordially, trying to play it cool, even though we both still liked each other very much. When driving away, I told my sister that I thought Josie still liked me. I took a chance at texting her and that conversation kept on and on till the end of the semester. I went back to Tennessee for my last Christmas break with a new outlook and perspective on life. My final apprehension was cleared when Josie came to my house late in the Christmas break and I asked her about her feelings. We agreed that we wanted to move toward a relationship as we continued to get to know each other. We texted and communicated every single day over the next semester. We have such sweet memories of talking late on the weekends, telling each other stories from the week, and learning everything we possibly could about each other. The communication was so good. At the end of college, Josie came down with Tori, who had come for Bobby’s graduation. Josie got to meet more of my extended family, and we rode together with my family to Bobby's house for his graduation party afterward. By this time we considered ourselves a couple and the following summer was full of so many awesome memories together. We loved going to coffee shops, picnicking, exploring Knoxville- just as long as we had plenty of quality time together.
Fall 2017 I asked Josie's parents if we could move forward with courtship, and they happily agreed. In January 2018, we spent a day in Gatlinburg, TN and concluded at the gorgeous Emerts Cove Covered Bridge to make our courtship official. (Check out the Photos). In the Spring I got permission from Mr. Bates to propose, and on June 19, 2018 we got engaged in the most beautiful place, Josie's dream destination: Arches National Park, Utah. (More photos!)
I can truly say that Josie is the love of my life, my soulmate, and the only one I could ever imagine spending forever with. I used to think that the “Perfect One" didn't necessarily exist, but when God works in your life in a way that you never could've dreamed of, you can experience life changing answers to prayer! I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Josie is the perfect one for me, and I cannot wait to share the rest of our lives together!
I love you Josie Kellyn <3