Wednesday, February 29

a love story: jess mcclenahan

Hi. I'm Jess and I blog over at The Macs. Usually I blog about the two little men in my life but today Danielle is letting me share her space to talk all about my main man. I should really talk about him more often! :)

My love story began in high school. My dad got transferred the summer before my sophomore year and even though I had moved around my whole growing up, a new school and new friends was scary. And as if moving in high school wasn't hard enough, my parents moved us from a school in the middle of Kansas City to a school in the middle of a rural farming community. Talk about being uprooted. If only I would have known back then what a blessing that move would be in this journey that is my life. If we hadn't moved I might never have met the love of my life.

I ended up being in a junior math class that year. Joel was a year ahead of me and taking that class too. I could tell from watching him that he was a major extrovert. You always knew when he was in the room. He was fun, and funny, and people were always smiling when he was around. Totally opposite of my introvert personality and probably totally opposite of the kind of guy I would have told you I was looking for. (Like I really would have known what kind of guy I was looking for as a sophomore in high school, right?!) One day in that same math class, Joel tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I would go with him to the winter banquet (like prom, but with no dancing). I didn't know Joel very well at that point or probably even liked him (in a romantic way) but I was so excited to be the new girl that was asked to banquet by a cute upperclassman...and I said yes.

We dated casually throughout high school. After Joel graduated he spent his first year of college in Pensacola, Florida while I was in Kansas finishing my senior year of high school. Those were the days before cell phones and texting and email, so that year was filled with lots of letter writing and high long distance phone bills for Joel. We learned how to be really good communicators that year.


After I graduated from high school, Joel transferred and we both spent the next four years at K-State. We grew up a lot that first year of college. We got involved in a campus ministry and while we both already had a personal relationship with the Lord, we learned what it really looked like to pursue God with your whole heart as a college student. We began understanding a little better what it looked like to live out your faith. I saw Joel pursue hard after the things of God that year and knew that he would do the same in our marriage. That's what sealed the deal...and maybe a little encouragement from my dad!


I am a rule follower...still am. I was sure that it would be the most responsible thing to wait until we both had graduated from college to get married. Joel has always been the rule breaker in our relationship...he didn't think we needed to wait. :) Anyway, my dad was talking to me one night and asked me if I really wanted to risk losing Joel and ask him to wait. I knew he was the man I wanted to marry and my dad convinced me that it was silly to wait just to be a rule follower. You were so right, dad. I think Joel would have waited for me (right, babe?) but instead he asked me to marry him...and I said yes. We got married the summer after my sophomore year of college. We spent the next two years in Manhattan, Kansas finishing college as newlyweds. Those two years hold some of our favorite memories together. I am so glad I decided to break the rules.




After college Joel was asked to come back and work on the farm he had practically grown up on with the intention to take it over some day. This was SO not in my plans. When I left that rural country high school, I told everyone I knew that I was never going to marry a farmer. And here I was, two years into marriage, about to become a farmers wife. But we both felt like God was very obviously opening that door for us. I reluctantly agreed and we moved home.


Fast forward through four years of Joel farming and me teaching kindergarten. Our first little girl, Cora, was born. We were so in love with our baby girl and I was excited to finally be able to be a stay at home mom. My dream. We were loving life and our little family. What we didn't know was that our family and marriage would be rocked to the core eleven months later when Cora lost her short battle with cancer and we had to say goodbye to her here on earth.


All of a sudden it was just me and Joel again. That first year after losing Cora was a year of mourning for us. There were many dark days filled with many tears. We had to learn how to function as a couple and a family without our little girl. But my husband was a rock. I can't imagine what it was like to come home to your grieving, sad wife everyday, but he stuck by me even during my ugliest hours...and let me tell you there were definitely days and days of those ugly hours that year! And while we would have never chosen that path for our marriage or family, those days drew us closer to God and closer to each other. I fell in love with my husband in a whole new way. God used him to comfort me, support me, and encourage me to keep clinging to Jesus even when life seemed so hard. I love him even more for that.


This month marks three years since Cora's heaven birthday. Our arms are full again as the Lord has blessed us with two beautiful boys. Levi and Griffin have brought with them so much joy and I can't tell you what a blessing it has been to have our house full of noise again. I loved watching the sweet relationship Joel had with our daughter and I love watching the relationships that are developing between him and his boys. There is something so special about watching your husband in his role as a father.



In August we will celebrate ten years together. I have lived a lot of life with Joel. Our marriage is not perfect. We have our ups and downs just like everyone else. We have struggles, we don't agree on everything, we argue, we get frustrated with the quirky things that we each do on a daily basis, and I fail so many times as a wife. Thankfully, we aren't in this marriage thing alone. We daily rely on God's grace to love each other well. Joel does such a good job of that. I am one loved lady and I am so thankful that I get to walk through both the joys and sorrows of life with Joel. This is just the beginning of our love story. I can't wait to live out the rest.


Thanks so much for letting me share my love story, Danielle. I can't wait to meet that sweet baby girl of yours. You will love having a little girl!

25 comments:

  1. Jess is one of my fave daily reads! Hung out with her at the park last week. She is an encourager in the Lord and is a living testimony of walking in truth!

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  2. i love knowing more of your story jess!!!
    and i love those pics of cora.
    that was a BEAUTIFUL day! great memories!
    you and joel were made for each other. :)
    and you make a pretty good farmers wife!

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  3. This love story really touched me. Thank you for sharing. :)

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Helped me so much more than I can explain !

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  5. Love Jess' blog! Great story! Thanks for sharing!

    Sarah @ This Farm Family's Life

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  6. What a beautiful family!! Love your blog, Jess!

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  7. Aww i love hearing/reading people's live stories... And yours is a good one :)

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  8. I loved reading your love story. Precious!!!!!
    Your family pics with Cora are so beautiful.
    I can't believe how big Levi is and Griffin is just
    growing way too fast!!!!
    I love love love reading your blog.

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  9. what a beautiful story of love & redemption! thank you for sharing it.

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  10. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading your love story and learning more about your family!

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  11. Jess, I have been following your blog for awhile now, it was fun hearing your love story. My husband and I started out very similarly. Only he was the one who would have moved anywhere, but we still live in southern Indiana where I grew up. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Just came here via Danielle's blog. Your story is beautiful and I hope to keep checking back here :)

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  13. Jess, I have been following your blog for awhile now. It was fun to see how your love story got much the same start as mine. We were high school sweethearts that married right after my sophomore year of college. Young love sometimes gets a bad rap :), it is refreshing to hear such a great love story. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. what a beautiful family! thanks for sharing your story :)

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  15. I just adore Jess. Thank you so much for sharing her beautiful and courageous love story.

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  16. Thanks for sharing such a loving and inspiring story. Beautiful. Xo

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  17. Ahhh. Jess! I have been reading your blogs for years, but you've never really talked about Joel before. Thanks for sharing; I was blessed. (Again!)

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  18. Such a sweet story! Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Jess,

    I have been following your blog when I receieved a prayer request to pray for your family in January/February 2009 while you were going throught the unthinkable as a momma! I was also married as a junior in college and it is amazing how as we go through different stages of our life how we fall in love all over again with our hubbies! You married an amazing man and I am sure your other to little guys will be just as amazing as he is! I think about your story of Cora daily....when I seem to start taking advantage of what I have, I remember that at any moment it can be taken away! You have taught me to cling to the one constant in life....our Lord and Savior!

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  20. Soooooo sweet!:)............ miss you lots!!!!!

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  21. Soooooo sweet!:)............ miss you lots!!!!!

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  22. I follow Jess' blog and had never heard their love story. LOVED this. Its cool to see the path God laid out for them and get to see ways He uses even the deepest valleys to draw us closer to Him and to each other.

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  23. Not certain how I came across your blog, but your story is a beautiful and heartfelt one!
    Have a beautiful and very blessed day ahead!

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