When I began attending Florida College in August 2015, I told my Mama that I was not going to have any “boy drama” because I had decided that I was not going to like any boys, or even consider them, for quite some time. Unfortunately for me, (but actually very fortunately!) on August 23, 2015, on my second Sunday at college, I met the most amazing man I’ve ever known. Of course I had no idea how amazing Sam was or how well I would get to know him, but as soon as I talked to this very cool and extremely nice senior I knew I would like to get to know him more.
Sam and I ended up placing membership at the same congregation and both joining the cross country team, so we got many opportunities to get to know each other. Although it took me a while to finally admit it to myself, I really liked Sam, but I did not think we would ever work out, or that he liked me. Actually, I remember thinking that I should stop liking him because he was about to graduate, move to Romania, and I would never see him again. Thankfully that’s not the way it turned out though.
Cross country van ride
After spending the whole cross country season trying not to let Sam know I was interested (I almost always ran with him, but not right next to him; I always sat near him on cross country van trips, but never right by him…), it was time for Fall banquet. At Florida College the tradition is for girls to ask guys to go to the banquet in the fall, and the roles are reversed in the spring. It took much convincing from my sister and friends, but I finally built up the courage and asked Sam to go with me, and all the stress was completely worth it when he said yes! We had a lot of fun at the event, and continued to run together often, talking and getting to know each other throughout the rest of the semester.
Florida College Fall Banquet
On December 9, Sam asked me to go on one more run with him before we left school, as we often did together. As we ran along the golf course Sam said he had a question to ask me and asked if we could keep in touch over break and get to know each other more. I did not have to think before excitedly saying yes! That winter break was filled with text messages, phone calls, and the break even ended with a visit to each other’s families.
When we returned to school, we continued to run together, study together, and spend lots of time getting to know each other, dating through the spring semester. Right when we got back to school Sam ran his first ultra marathon, a 100k, and I was his one-man crew and pacer, running the last 17 miles with him. We spent hours in the library reading and studying together, attended various devos and studies together, and took countless walks through the neighborhoods behind the school at night. We had the blessing of getting to see each other every day and we got to know one another pretty well during those four months.
Before the ultra-marathon
During the summer of 2016 Sam was preaching in Ohio and I was with my family in Mississippi. We got a taste of what a long distance relationship was like, with lots of texting, phone calls, and letters. We were able to see each other a few times though; Sam came to Mississippi for a weekend and I got to go to Ohio for a week for my birthday, then again when Sam gave a Gospel meeting for the congregation there. Even though we were mostly apart, we continued to get to know each other even more, and we became more certain that we did not like being apart.
Visiting in Ohio
Sam’s plan was to fly out of Tampa to Romania on August 29, 2016, so he accompanied me to school and helped me move in the dorm and get ready for my sophomore year of college. I was sad for him to be leaving and I wondered what our dating-relationship would be like for us to be so far apart for so long. I knew we survived the summer, but it was not easy, and we still got to see each other about once a month. I knew everything would be okay if it was God’s will, but it was still hard because there was so much unknown for me and I just had no idea how everything would be.
Then, on August 20, 2016, the night of move-in day at Florida College, Sam and I went on a walk on the golf course. We walked the same sidewalks we had walked countless times when we first started dating, talking about anything and everything and learning more and more about each other. That night we talked a lot about what we would do/expect with a long distance relationship, what we were most worried about, and what we would need to focus on the most. When we reached the same place he had asked me if we could get to know each other on that run back in December, Sam stopped and began saying all kind of nice things to me that just melted my heart. Then he said he had a question for me, and got down on one knee. I was surprised, but I was so happy and I did not hesitate at all to say yes!
At the beach right after our engagement
I said yes!
We set our wedding date and began the countdown until we would be reunited again, forever. Sam left for Romania on August 29 and the next nine months were filled with countless text messages, emails, letters, FaceTime calls, and even an unplanned two-week visit during winter break! Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and Sam and I found that we grew so much as a couple and grew to love each other even more through our engagement.
Sam’s visit in December
A long distance relationship, especially one separated by thousands of miles and a 7 hour time difference, is not easy by any means, but it was completely worth it. When I was at school I would get up at 5:00 a.m. to FaceTime Sam before running and going to class, then we would text throughout the day and send each other a long email once a week. We created a schedule for our week and had various things we would study and discuss together each day. We had Bible studies, read several books on marriage, practiced Romanian and Greek, and second semester we studied once a week with Sam’s father, who married us, on marriage. Some days were hard, and the time difference definitely made communication a little more difficult, but we made it. We worked through difficulties, being miles and miles and hours and hours apart, which gave us the confidence that we can work through difficulties when we are together. I also think having a long distance relationship made us really appreciate being together. As long and as hard as it all was, it was all worth it when we finally saw each other in the airport four days before our wedding!
Sam came back to the states on May 30, and on June 3, 2017 we had a beautiful and perfect wedding, surrounded by our wonderful family and friends. Now I end this story-telling with our beginning. We are so excited to begin our marriage and to finally be together forever!
Best. Day. Ever!
~ Julie Peters