As the officiant of our wedding, Chandler Pruitt made this statement to everyone in attendance: “Kevin gives hope for every guy out there – that you can escape the friend zone.”
Some people have to literally crawl their way out of the friend zone, but I credit the strength of our friendship to the depth of relationship we have now. I think the Lord knew that we needed eight years of friendship for us to have the strongest foundation going into our dating relationship and eventual marriage. Kevin and I are very different from each other, so years of friendship gave us time to see how much we have in common and that we have a deep, unchanging foundation. Much of that bond is a result of summers at camp, where we were able to focus on our commonalities, our love for people, and build on a friendship focused on Christ.
Kevin and I met at Tivy High School in Kerrville during our last years of school. However, I give full credit to Singing Hills where we were counselors together. Throughout my senior year of high school and first three years of college, I was dating a guy – this is partially why the day I met Kevin he was immediately placed in the category of “you’re like a brother to me” and the realm “I’m so glad we’re friends… buddy”. Exactly where every guy wants to be, right? But Kevin was (and still is) the most patient person I know. His thoughtful, genuine friendship was something I treasured in each new season of our friendship and these same attributes of kindness, gentleness, and selflessness I now get to enjoy in each new day. We continued to be great friends in our college years as Kevin came to Texas A&M a year after me, much thanks to my own convincing. We also continued to work at Singing Hills, growing into roles of Programmer for Kev and Work Crew Boss and Girl’s Director for Kels. In our summers there, we had the dream team staff – we literally call each other “The Family” and each have specific roles that we perhaps too accurately fit into. These are the people that we can tell anything & have seen us through so many things. I tell people that part of why I was so surprised when Kevin asked me out was because I knew he had literally seen me at my worst already – there were no good first impressions to win back, and there was definitely nothing to prove since serving together at Singing Hills was such a sincere experience. It was freeing, really, but also I was a little worried about his mental state in the midst of choosing me. I always thought I wanted to marry a guy from camp, but when I looked at the options of my friends I thought – “there’s no way.” Really I just had to think differently!! In saying yes to a first date with Kev, and later saying yes to the most elaborate proposal, I said yes to the best person I could ever imagine for me to be married to. And it makes perfect sense now, because he was already one of my best friends! I can’t imagine having to introduce my spouse to camp and him not having the context of all that it has meant to me in my life and my relationship with Christ, so it is extremely special that we have shared many summers and such great memories together at camp.
After years of living in the same place, Kevin conveniently asked me out once he was 10 hours away living in Arkansas. He says that he chose to disqualify everyone else from dating me by being the one to ask me out. It became clear that the only way to preserve and deepen the depth of our friendship was to date each other.
Our first date was on Labor Day weekend 2015 in Austin, Texas. I knew it was either going to be too weird and feel forced for us to be anything more than friends, or it was going to be so obviously right that we’d wish we’d been dating all along. The second one was true, but even so I have no doubt that the Lord’s timing was at work in every bit of our story leading up to that moment and as we went forth from there. We proceeded to date long distance for seven months in what we call the “tour of Texas” – we would meet up for weekends in Austin, Dallas, Waco, College Station, San Antonio and Kerrville as we added romance to the vibrant, fun friendship we had. In these cities we would always stay with friends from camp and catch them up on the unfolding surprise of our own emotions and expression. Many said they saw it coming and others were just as flabbergasted as I was that we could end up together.
Kevin moved back to Kerrville in April and was offered a job at the Foundation as a part of the Property Planning & Stewardship Team. He is now the Assistant Director of Stewardship, and I cannot think of a job that is a better fit for him than caring for & managing the land that we feel so strongly for – a place of transformation & hope & healing for countless people.
I was hired as the Assistant Director of Programming for Laity Lodge Family Camp and began serving in that role Labor Day weekend of 2016 – exactly a year after that pivotal first date.
Two weeks later I shouted a resounding “yes!!” to an elaborate, creative, detailed proposal complete with twinkly lights & fireworks. Kevin never fails to out-do himself, and this was no different.
With each new day we grew more invested & passionate about our new work – creating space for families to experience wholeness & transformation and ministering to and discipling staff, and keeping the natural resources of the Frio Canyon pristine for people to experience the Lord through.
We also fell more in love with each other and grew in our excitement about our wedding day and every day of life together afterwards. We felt blessed to have Cary & Jenny Hendricks walk through marriage counseling with us in those months, and for Chandler Pruitt to officiate our special day. Many of our best friends in our wedding party were pals we made or grew close to at camp, which shows the type of lifelong friends they are.
We continually find ourselves in awe of the fact that this is our life: getting to be best friends that are married, living in our hometown where we feel invested & supported, and working for the Lord’s glory in a place that we care so deeply for. The Lord has been so good to us, and I’m thankful Kev & I have left the friend-zone far behind us.