How We Met
Two years ago, Tyler and I met on the Green (UAB’s campus) at Relay for Life 2014. He was wearing this bright neon yellow tank, and I was wearing a green chevron dress. Tyler comes up to me and plainly asks, “Hi, I’m Tyler Peppers. Have we met before?” I replied, “No, I don’t believe so. I’m Kelsey Lovell.” After telling him to “shh” during the moment of silence (not much has changed), we had sweet conversation of his summer-long mission trip in Montana, then parted ways. I remember thinking, “There’s something different about that guy.” (He swears he knew I was the “One” that day, but I think he’s just a hopeless romantic.)
We actually ended up “talking” (What does that even mean?) after that night. Our first date was at Panera Bread, and we spilled our hearts out to each other. Conversation was so easy, and the laughs were many. We went on more dates and had many long chats, but I was stuck in the life I had known before him. While our new relationship was flourishing, I ran back to the old relationship I had for so long before…twice. Both times he said, “I am willing to work through this if you are, because I believe you are worth it.” I about hit the floor. What kind of love is that – the kind that would forgive your wrongs and move forward with grace and kindness? The second time, I knew that I needed time alone, but I knew the Lord had something planned.
The beginning of our relationship two years ago, is a lot like Gomer and Hosea’s story in the Bible. Quick recap: Hosea was a prophet called by God to marry a prostitute, because God knew that the prostitute would run away from Hosea. This symbolized Israel running away from their God. Hosea was instructed by God each time Gomer ran away to “love her again.” So he did. While I know I’m not a prostitute, I know what it’s like to run. I know what it’s like to know you have a great and wonderful thing and be so caught in sin, that you run away. I know what it’s like to run from a God that wants nothing more than to love me and me to love him. Just as Gomer ran from Hosea, so did I from my T. And just as Hosea chased after Gomer when she returned to her old habits, so did my T chase after me and offer his forgiveness, grace, and love.
I want everyone reading this to know that Tyler loved(s) me like this because I realized(s) that he is loved in the same way by Jesus. He has experienced Jesus chasing after him when he runs from Him. He has experienced what it feels like to be wrapped in the arms of Jesus after returning from a long, hard road. Like Hosea, Ty was simply a servant called by God to love a difficult, hard-headed woman, and to love her like Jesus loves him. And Lord knows that I needed a man like Tyler to accept, love, and challenge me to be the woman God wants me to be.
We spent the next year as really great friends, and actually led the same Bible study together – totally not planned by us, but totally planned by Jesus. We grew closer in the Word with each other and with the other people of Unite. These months were filled with sweet times of simple friendship, but both of us knew that God was calling us to more than just friendship. On April 14, 2015, in the parking lot after Unite, he asked me, “I’ve been wanting to ask you this for a while… Will you…” I screamed “yes” before he could even finish the question. He could’ve been asking me, “Will you do my homework?” and I would’ve said yes… But I became his girlfriend, and the rest is history!
how they asked
After Tyler’s graduation from UAB that morning, I went to my big’s graduation that afternoon, and she had made “plans” to go out to eat with her family. Well, my contacts were killing me so I asked if I could go to my car and get my glasses before we left, to which she replied, “No! We have to go now! You can’t go to your car!” I was like “Ooooookayyyyy” so I just got in the car, no more questions asked. I did notice we were going a really weird way to the restaurant, but I dared not ask due to the (fake) sassy mood. She stopped the car and I thought, “Why are we stopping?” Then I saw him. I saw the table of succulents and sweet decorations. I saw the “Peppers” sign. I saw the chair and the water basin and the towel. I saw the beautiful view of Birmingham. I froze. Was this real? I walked over to him, and he said some of the kindest, gentlest, and most heartfelt words I have ever heard… But I only remember about half of them because I sort of crying a little excessively… After he proposed, he told me he had to do one more thing. He washed my feet and told me the story of how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet before he was crucified. He said, “Not that I want to compare myself to Jesus, but I do want you to know this is how I want to serve you for the rest of our lives together.” (I was really crying now.) Nothing else in the world mattered in that moment except him. I was overwhelmed with joy and could feel the presence of the Lord on the top of the mountain. It was a day that I had dreamed of for years, and it will be a day I will never forget!