It is long but it is my favorite story to tell so I let myself be as wordy as I liked on this one. I do hope you enjoy reading Our Story. ~Haley
We met in the winter of 2003 the year I was 8 and he was 11. My family had just moved to a 21 acre farm in Putnam County and in an effort to make new friends mommy signed my older sister and I up for 4-H. We joined a club that was primarily homeschoolers and quickly befriended the Smith family.
My first distinct memory of Wesley takes place in the spring of ’03. His older brother Tristan was helping to remodel our kitchen and one day Mrs. Smith stopped by to see him, bringing Wesley along. While our mothers talked, we kids showed Wesley around the nearer areas of our farm, when Mrs. Smith called him to leave we convinced her to let him stay and go home with Tristan later. We spent the entirety of that spring day dragging Wesley around the farest stretches of our land. We hiked through woods, collected locust shells, ate yo-goat pops and pop tarts, and followed Wesley into any settlers vs. Indians games he imagined up.
As that first summer went by we got to know the Smith family well. They had 12 children 9 boys and 3 girls, the oldest of who was away at college. The other 11 Smith ‘kids’ came over often to swim or fish in our 4 acre pond, our family’s cohosted holiday gatherings, and we often did activities together. That is truly the summer in which our families’ friendship took root.
Over the following years we all continued to grow up and our friendship was never lost. By 2009 Wesley was graduating homeschool, he had completed 10 years of 4-H, played multiple years of basketball, and held his first job for two or three years. At that time I was just 14 and although I was dreaming of marriage and homemaking it was a very unreal dream as I was much younger than I thought I was and still had a lot to learn.
Wesley continued to work at Bright Futures, the toy and book store that constituted his first job for a few more years. In 2012 the hometown store went under and Wesley moved on to work at Casey’s General Store. Within two years of working there he was promoted to manager and given his own store in Bainbridge, the town between both our families’ homes.
I graduated homeschool in ’13. Accomplishments to my name at that point in life were completing 10 years of 4-H, writing my first complete novel, and making jewelry and cinnamon rolls to sell at our local farmers market. By the June day on which my graduation open house was held I knew Wesley was the one I wanted to marry. As I fought over what to do with this new discovery and feelings my life continued to move on and I began work at my first job as a bread baker at a bakery and café.
Over our years of friendship Wesley was what could have been considered my steady crush. Other guys would come and go in my life but Wesley was always there, a steady friend, a boy I knew well, someone I was completely comfortable with and could always just be myself around. Now I know the same could be said for most of his brothers as well but when it comes to attraction you can’t really find a way to explain it. Maybe it has something to do with a person’s sense of humor, their looks, their personality, and plain and simply the chemistry of theirs working together with yours. I can’t explain it but out of all of the Smith boys, by the summer of 2013 some combination of all those things had created something more than a simple crush between Wesley and I.
My younger sister listened to me nearly every evening as we did chores together and countless times in between.
“Do you think he likes me?”
“Yes, I think he likes you.” Eye roll.
“Ugh.. but how can I know? And liking isn’t good enough. I’m not going to sit around waiting for him. If he doesn’t ask to marry me by the end of this year I’m moving on.”
“Sure you will.” More eye rolling.
“I’m serious. I’m going to be 19 this year. If I’m not going to be engaged and married by 20 I’m leaving. I’ll go on a Mercy ship or something. I’d have to move on. I couldn’t marry Wesley five years from now because I’d know we’d have wasted time we could have been together.”
Here is a diary entry following one of those conversations.
“At piano lessons today I had fun hanging out with Shelbs while John was in lessons. So we were talking about guys, and who likes who, and who knows and who’s jealous and my getting married ideas and every time I’d bring “him” up and how I wonder if I’ll know when/if he’s talking to my parents and I’m like begging Shelbs to promise to tell me if she ever knows of anyone and she goes “I’m a stone.” And every time I’d mention anything I’d look at her for a reaction and she’d repeat “I’m a stone”. Annoying but funny and eventually she’s like “Okay, honestly I think he likes you but I’ll never give you information, I’m going back to being a stone.”
And true to her word, she never did tell me anything regarding Wesley and his proposal even though she did know. My brother John on the other hand.. that’s another story ;)
On and on it would go. My poor sister had to listen to that over and over again throughout the course of the summer. Some variants of it had me arguing with her on how she could tell he liked me, why he hadn’t asked permission to marry me yet, and etc. Poor Shelby, I’m sorry you had to go through that but thanks for sticking it out ;)
Not long after that a diary entry can be found saying “I seriously feel mixed up. I mean I’m fairly certain at this point that I would marry him. Like, I think he’s “the one” but how do I know if it’s God? Or just me? All I can figure is to keep praying and I know I’ve always been told not to put a name to ‘him’ but I’m being specific before God because clear honesty is best: God, if Wesley ‘s the one please prepare him for me fast and if I’m for him help me become the woman you want who encourages him on the… fastness issue?” I knew in my heart “he” had a name so why stand before God and try to pretend “he” didn’t?
By late June I finally braved up and told my mother how I felt. I was expecting her to reprimand me and remind me of the importance of emotional purity or point out what was wrong with me and the situation but much to my surprise she simply discussed Wesley’s character with me, asked what about him I was attracted to, what things about him could be a potential issue, and made the observation that “he doesn’t annoy you at all and that’s kind of huge.” Which was true; I am easily annoyed by something in nearly all men, people, really.
That late night heart to heart ended with mommy giving me a simple and very wise piece of advice “Don’t change who you are to become something you think he’s going to be attracted to.” And I went to bed completely peaceful knowing mommy knew where my heart was and was praying for me and the situation.
As the next several weeks went by there were many subtle changes in Wesley’s and my friendship, many of which left me confused but hopeful. At the farmers market Wesley and I would spend the entire morning discussing deep Biblical convictions; things we had never discussed one on one before. We began facebook messaging and texting on a daily basis, something I had never done with any guy and which I was fairly certain was new for Wesley as well. Any time our families were together, we could be found near one another; teaming up to start sports, siding with one another in debates, watching over younger kids, or simply sitting together talking. However, never once did either of us discuss the possibility of a relationship, nor suggest that our friendship held more.
Then, one Saturday Mrs. Smith and I were the only ones manning our market booth and as we talked we landed on the topic of relationships, be it dating, courtship, or betrothal. We were discussing character traits of couples we knew and how they lined up and choosing character traits that would match her boys. When she got to Wesley I remember sitting there kind of awkwardly. Admit how I feel about him? Hint about my personality matching his? Being the girl I am I just went for it. I smiled goofily, biting my lip and said “Uhm, I want Wesley.” I have no doubt that I surprised her with that statement. In her shocked state she told me she was glad to hear I could feel that way about him because she was afraid he would always just be a brother figure to me.
Later that week though she wrote to apologize for discussing it or potentially leading me on as she is “NOT in control of anything.”
I was left confused but strangely peaceful. Yes, it was in God’s control, but by that point I firmly believed God had showed me that Wesley was “the one” therefore I could rest comfortably in the peace of that knowledge, waiting for God to release the details.
My diary entry Thursday, August 22nd 2013 was one I wrote with calm peacefulness reveling in God’s plan.
“Going to bed early but I have a piece of history to record.
Wesley talked to Daddy today. John was excited for me and told me even though he thought Shelbs would kill him :P I don’t have much insight on it. Good grief, it could mean nothing… Maybe it’s just one of those ‘lets pray about it’ things but.. it just JUST hit me how it does mean something.. he talked to Daddy! I really shouldn’t say anything but.. =) Imagine me beaming because I am and *sigh* its just.. peaceful and happy and full of hope =)
We’ll see where it goes from here.”
Obviously I wasn’t even supposed to have known that much but when John overheard Daddy asking Wesley questions about his beliefs on church, his job situation, and plans for the future he couldn’t help but race to me and share the information as he knew I’d be thrilled.
The news, however, left me questioning exactly what might be coming, although I was positive it wouldn’t be courtship. Long before this began, I had told my parents if a young man asked to court me they could know he wasn’t the one because I would only be willing to marry someone who I already knew well enough to simply start life with, I wasn’t going to need a period of time to get to know him better as courtship offers.
I hoped Daddy hadn’t given Wesley a long list of ‘you have to accomplish before marrying my daughter’ –he was already basically perfection to me, what more could daddy possibly ask of him anyways? ;P
The next week went by uneventfully. Me praying for patience and begging God to help me not nose around and unearth any more information that wasn’t supposed to be mine yet.
All summer my brother Daniel, four Smith boys, and a few other friends had been planning a trip to Colorado with the Thyr family. Our goal while in Colorado was to summit Mt. Elbert, the highest mountain there. On the morning we planned to summit we woke to clear skies full of beautiful stars so we all got ready and drove to the trail head to begin our hike. For about 8 hours we hiked our way through woods, up inclines, across plains, over tundra and finally the last few steps to the top. About two-thirds of the way up I found myself plugging along with Wesley and John-Michael Smith. With the changing altitude “my group” started experiencing headaches and s l o w n e s s. Through the last 2 hours of the climb we would make a goal of a cairn, large rock, or switchback in the trail and push for it then stop to rest upon reaching it. Slowly and steadily we finally pushed ourselves all the way to the top.
After taking pictures with a few others who had arrived before us we went to cheer on the next group. Or so I was told. While standing there watching them walk their way slowly towards us Wesley reaching into his pocket and handed me a letter telling me to read it. The first part of the letter was from my daddy who was giving me written permission and his blessing to say yes to the question I was about to be asked. There was also a note from mommy but I sort of skimmed through that.. Looking back up at Wesley he said “I don’t know exactly where God’s going to lead me in my life or you in yours but I do know that I want you to be with me through it.” Then he got down on one knee, opened a ring box, and asked me “Haley, will you marry me?” With teary eyes I nodded and whispered “Yes” let him slip the ring on my freezing hand then asked for a hug.
So there, on the highest mountain in Colorado my best friend presented me with the most awesome of proposals.
In the year and half since, Wesley and I have compared our sides of the story many times. From Wesley’s side he admits to having been attracted to me for a long time. He was simply waiting for his parent’s blessing to move forward with his intentions towards me. Once he received that in the summer of 2013 he made quick work of setting it all in motion. Less than a month after having obtained his parent’s approval and receiving my parents blessing he proposed.
So our story isn’t quite your traditional best-friend-high-school-sweetheart story because we didn’t actually date but it also isn’t a successful-conservative-homeschooler-courtship story because neither one of us had any desire to court. Our story is simply that; ours, two very close childhood friends who never grew distant, never had nasty breakups or fall outs; friends who saved all of their firsts for each other, and who married young. We give God the glory for writing this story and love knowing that He continues to pen each chapter as we go.