Telling a story. In a few paragraphs online. Should be no big deal. We feel like our story is so impacted by the God who made us, that if you skipped over the pages about us each individually, we encourage you to jump back and read up on what we believe and why Jesus matters to us.
Where do we start then, after that? We both went to Illini Life Christian Fellowship as students at the U of I. Both of us were involved in leadership in different ways. However, our paths didn’t really cross.
It wasn’t until Alan graduated that we started to become friends. We both were involved in coaching student leaders in dorm outreach. Through this coaching team, we discovered some similar interests and ended up hanging out in one another’s friend circles.
There are two key moments to this relationship blossoming, though. Ashley, as a respected leader in Illini Life, was asked to speak at Illini Life’s worship service. It was there that Alan realized he was interested in “somebody like Ashley.” Then, on a Spring Break trip to Mexico with I-Life, we had some fantastic moments bonding and solidifying a friendship. We also discovered a shared interest in spreading God’s Kingdom through a few similar dreams.
The summer after that Spring Break trip, Ashley spent in Colorado and Alan was raising his initial support as a campus missionary. Our friendship continued and when Ashley returned, Alan was eager to see her. Apparently, everybody else was keen on a budding relationship, as Alan’s roommates asked him about things with Ashley and Ashley’s core group of friends told her that she should like Alan.
The next few weekends meant trips to and from Champaign for Alan, until on October 10 (10.10.10!), Alan revealed his feelings for Ashley on her front porch. A week later, we went on our first date (a wedding that Ashley invited Alan to, because he was a ‘safe friend.’) The next few weeks, we went on a few dates, until we finally decided to call ourselves a couple in late October.
The next few months, despite only being able to see each other on weekends, were incredibly exciting. When Alan returned back to Champaign after raising his support, our relationship entered a new phase. We were no longer a distance relationship, but now lived 2 blocks from one another. Over the course of the next school year, we had some really incredible opportunities. On top of getting a chance to coach student leaders again, we also gave a dating seminar at I-Life’s Fall Retreat and Collegiate’s Ignite Conference. Then, we were given another opportunity to serve together on our service planning team for Illini Life’s worship service. Alan produced the service, and Ashley was an advisor and occasional speaker.
For Spring Break in 2012, Alan went to New York City with a group of students to share the Gospel. When he returned, after plenty of waiting on Ashley’s part, Alan proposed. It was an awesome evening with music, some of our favorite places, and 500+ tea candles. Alan asked Ashley to marry him.
On November 24, 2012, We got married in the beautiful south lounge of the Illini Union and took our honeymoon in our favorite place in the world, Estes Park, Colorado.
The last nearly two years of marriage have been a gift where we have come more closely knit than ever before. While it has not always been easy, we believe that we make each other better people — and are better together than we are individually.
In the summer of 2014 we took another huge leap of faith together and have decided that Ashley resign from the last 7 years of teaching middle school, and go into part-time ministry on campus. While there are definitely risks and sacrifices involved in both being campus missionaries, we are excited to see what God has called us to, and know that His way is always better than our personal comfort.
Would you pray for our marriage as we work to change the world through U of I students and the Gospel of Jesus?