Kelsey and Ben

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how we met

I spent my first two years in Chicago getting my associates degree and was transferring to a four-year college. I was all applied at Aurora University in the suburbs of Chicago. My education classes picked, books ordered, roommates messaging me planning the arrangements, and I was all set. Then July hit. Only six weeks until classes started. My family and I went down for our Fourth of July vacation. I had always dreamed of going to school in Florida. Palm Beach Atlantic University had been brought up from a friend from church. With curiosity, I looked it up. I realized it was only three hours south of my parent’s condo in Daytona. Out of nowhere I got this strange urge to see it. I had a sudden interest, that quite honestly almost stressed me out. School started in six weeks… No way could this work out. Well, I brought it up to my parents and sister to have a visit. So we made the trip down. My mom said I didn’t stop smiling the entire tour. She said I was glowing. A thousand miles away, and I had this comforting feeling of being on this campus. We all went for lunch afterward, and of course, my parents hated to see my go so far but saw this immensity of happiness coming from me. I prayed about it on the drive home and said, “God if this is where you have me planned to go, then I trust your hand will work it all out with this quick time frame.” I was cautious not to get my hopes up to high because there was no way. It was already the middle of the July with only four weeks before classes would start. Within the next week, I had gotten a call that I was accepted, classes were picked, and there was a room left in the on-campus apartments. Words will never come close to expressing the joy I had receiving the message in a bottle containing my acceptance letter. My friends and family know I’m obsessed with love stories, Nicholas Sparks being one with his novel A Message in a Bottle. I packed my car, and off I went.Within the first week, I had met so many great transfer students, some I still am very close with now. One of them being Melo. He was from Africa and had this presence about it. Looking back now, I see in more ways than one he was at the work of God. That first Friday of school was my twenty-first birthday. Taking extra time that morning I got all ready for a fun filled day, and night with friends. In between classes in the morning, I went to run an errand and realized God had a different plan for that day than I did. I was in a car accident.

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My car was totaled, and I was rushed to the emergency room. With honesty I say, I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. My head hit the windshield and cracked it. Luckily my steering wheel had a rubber cover, that tore my leg up terribly but saved me from hitting it harder and flying out. The firefighter said I was blessed by someone above because I blacked out and hit my head hard. I was bruised and beat up back. My neck was sprained, my hip was out of whack, toe cut open deep, and my head bruised from the hit. Thank the Lord for great friends, as one of them took me into her families house for the weekend. My friends came to visit me for my birthday, but with painkillers so stronger I fell asleep. My friend texts me the next Thursday and asked to get dinner. I was still struggling and in a lot of pain. She said I needed a fun night out. That day I really wasn’t feeling up for it, so I text her asking to just wear sweats and get soup. She quickly responded, “Look cute and get ready to have your first legal drink with some fun girl time!” She picked me up, we walked into dinner together….and there was a table full of friends!I cried and was hugging everyone. They were happy to see me out and smiling again. But there across the table was one guy I had seen at school, had a quick hello with before, but I couldn’t remember his name if you asked me. As dinner went on, I noticed this guy across the table looking at me smiling. He was gosh darn cute. Dinner finished up, and I hugged everyone. Then there he was standing next to Melo. Melo said he brought along his friend Ben from the soccer team. I gave him a hug and thanked him for coming. Come to find out, this good looking guy played soccer. My friends and I were big soccer fans, all growing up playing ourselves, so we went to first game. There he was. Number twenty-one, starting at back right defense. My gosh did he look good out there! We had a quick glance during the game. Our friend groups all hung out together, and little by little I fall hard for this boy. Come to find out he liked country, and was from Chicago too. God talks about finding a man who pursues a woman…well let me tell you, this boy was pursuing me. Each night he’d asked once my homework was done if I’d go for a walk on the intercostal with him. We’d walk for hours, and talk. I felt so comfortable with him, and how incredibly sweet he was. Our friendship grew stronger and stronger. That May I had jaw surgery scheduled for the week after I got home from school. I’d be wired shut for eight weeks, and have a long recovery road after that.

Ben and I talked about the future all the time. We had the same dreams for a family, and the connection between us was undeniable. He brought up the conversation about us dating. I knew after just a few short weeks of talking with Ben he was the man of my dreams and the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I couldn’t grasp how fast and hard I fell for Ben. But, I knew with surgery coming up, my emotional, physical, and spiritual state was going to be tested. I felt wrong to start a relationship not being on my own two feet. So, I told him if we could get through this surgery together, that I would date him. I knew I would be able to see him truly in a hard situation, as well as him see me through good and bad. My eyes tear up thinking back to this. He was there in the hospital, making me still feel like the prettiest girl in the world when I knew I looked awful. For eight weeks, I couldn’t talk to him, kiss him, laugh with him, or smile. No amount of words will ever explain this feeling of how difficult it was. He saw me on days when I couldn’t eat I was in so much pain, I wasn’t sleeping, and I couldn’t take any pain medicine because the risk of vomiting and choking. I had to carry wire cutters everywhere I went in case I started to choke. He drove out to my hours an hour away every other day. Without talking, or being able to do anything he came just the same each time. His words of encouragement each morning and night showed me so much of his heart. July 16th, once my wires were cut, he planned a whole day with a scavenger hunt ending at a garden and asked me to be his girlfriend.

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how they asked

We’d been dating for two and a half years, but a year and a half of it was long distance. We talked for a year before actually dating. While I was nannying in Nantucket Island for a month, he drove to my house in August and asked my parents for permission to marry me. Needless to say, he wasn’t asking until December but wanted to make sure it was okay with my parents before purchasing the ring. My parents were honored and said yes! He went and spent two hours designing the ring he felt I’d like. He did amazing!!! December I graduated and was planning to move back. Ben still had a year and a half of college to go. I was bummed. The day after Christmas he planned a special outing for us together. Without having any idea of what we were doing he picked me up. With a carriage, a walkway of lights, hot cocoa and mugs, Ben got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I got teary-eyed, smiling from ear to ear, and shouted yes!

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In burlap on the carriage, it said, “Marry Me” and the back said, “Just Engaged”! My sister, as well as my soon-to-be sister-in-law, had helped set it all up. They were hiding in the trees taking pictures of it! My friends and family had all known for five months! It was an absolute dream come true!In exactly 82 days I get to marry my absolute best friend….and the man I prayed to find since I was a little girl! God called me to Florida, a thousand miles away, to meet the man I am beyond blessed to call my fiance, and soon hubby! “I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

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Special Thanks

Crystal Bolin Photography
 | photographer