Mary and Joseph

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How We Met

Joseph and I met in May of 2014. We were working Fuge camps at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. We led Bible study every day, taught recreation games, and hung out with students 24/7 and it was awesome. Towards the end of the summer we began partnering together to talk to students, and while watching him witness to students about what it meant to have a true relationship with the Lord, I began to like him, and he, in return, began to like me.

We tried dating long distance (from MS to GA) for a little bit, but we were in two different stages of life, and we ended up deciding to just be friends. We stayed friends through the next two semesters. We, along with some other camp friends, met up a few times, and I knew that I still liked him.

In May of 2015, we both attended training for camp at the same location before parting ways to work camp again- him in South Carolina, me in North Carolina again. We hung out all week, and by the end of it, I knew that I still really cared for him and wanted to be with him. However, I didn’t want to be a distraction from the ministry that he was getting to do in South Carolina, so I didn’t say anything.

That summer, for me, was a challenging one, filled with prayer. I wanted to be doing ministry alongside of Joseph again, and every time the Lord did something awesome, he was the first person I told. I prayed all summer for discernment on whether or not me and Joseph were supposed to be together.

At the end of my summer, Joseph came to Ridgecrest for a night to see a friend. Luckily, my director sent me on an airport run early the next morning, and told Joseph to go with me. On the way back, I told him how I felt, and he showed me more grace than I could have ever imagined. He gave me another chance, and we decided to try the long distance thing again.

This time the distance was shorter though, since he moved to New Orleans for seminary. We took turns traveling the three hours between Clinton and New Orleans to see each other. The first semester was hard, but we learned so much about each other and communicating with one another.

If there is one thing that we have learned over the last year, it’s that the Lord will always provide. In November of 2015, Joseph was offered a job as a college pastor in Baton Rouge. In February of 2016, a house for him (and someday us) to live in was provided. And in April, I was offered a job at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on LSU’s campus. The Lord worked everything perfectly so that we could begin our lives together, and we are so thankful for that.

How He Asked

I had been living in Baton Rouge for about a month and still wasn’t engaged, which was surprising to me- I thought he was going to propose long before that. It was always awkward to meet people at church and conferences and introduce myself as “the college pastor’s girlfriend.”

We had planned to go on a date on September 2nd for two weeks. We weren’t going to be able to celebrate his birthday on the actual date, so this date was going to make up for it. That week, I purchased two tickets to the Ole Miss vs. Auburn game (we’re Auburn fans, he has never been to Oxford) for his birthday. This was my first time every buying tickets to a game, and I worked hard to keep it a surprise.

I left work around noon, and was planning on going shopping for a dress for our date. I called my sister to talk to her, and she was on her way to “Birmingham” to hang out with an old friend for the weekend. I also called Joseph, and he pushed our dinner plans up to 5:15, saying that he wanted to make sure we didn’t have to wait a long time. Of course, he didn’t know that I was counting on the extra 30 minutes to get back from shopping.

While I was shopping, Joseph was texting me about how I couldn’t be late, and he was being extremely rude (in order to throw me off- who’s rude to their girlfriend the day he proposes?). He threatened to just go to McDonald’s if I wasn’t ready on time. Of course, I was upset because I had worked so hard to make his birthday special and (I thought) he was in the worst mood ever.

I ended up being on time, and he picked me up. We went to the restaurant- I was mad, of course. I let him open his gift, which he was very surprised at (I thought I had done a good job, but I had no idea the other surprise that was coming). He barely ate anything, saying that he had eaten earlier that afternoon and wasn’t that hungry. We finished, and left to go back home.

Right before we got home, Joseph told me that he had to stop by the church to check on a disaster relief team that was spending the weekend there. I agreed to go, but in my head all I could think was “that’s going to be really weird showing up in my dress and heels to greet this DR team.”

We turned into the church parking lot, and set up in a field behind the lot was a beautiful arch, and lots of flowers and candles and lanterns- it was absolutely beautiful! I asked “Who’s getting married??” When Joseph didn’t respond, I realized what was happening. We pulled up to right in front of the aisle that led to the arch, and we got out. He led me down the aisle, and when we got to the arch, he said a lot of stuff, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him. I said yes, of course, and put the ring (which is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and everything I ever wanted) on my finger.

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When I turned around, I realized that my entire family had driven down from north Mississippi, his family from North Georgia, and some of our best friends had driven and flown from Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia to be there for us. It was such a surprise, and I was so happy! Best day of my life!

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“Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Matthew 1:20

Special Thanks

Annsley McRae
Photography