The first time Jeff, 23, meet Chelsae, 22, he was so excited that he was shaking horribly. He had just flown in from Denver to Seattle, and Chelsae had come to pick him up at the airport.
“Jeff had the courage to actually fly up to meet me. I was really nervous right before, but once he was there; I was surprised by just how normal it felt,” Chelsae says.
She recalls Jeff's jitters with amusement. “I told him, 'You don't need to be nervous, it's just me.' I remember him turning to me and saying, 'Yeah, that's the problem.'”
Jeff says, “When I first saw her, I was taken aback. She was beautiful—even more beautiful than I had expected. What made me want to go out and meet her was that through the two months of talking, we had built a really great friendship. It was the right time to make the trip to see if we could build a romantic relationship on top of our friendship.”
In response to Chelsae's musing about his quaking and shaking, Jeff still kids Chelsae about the happy dance he saw her do as he was coming down the escalator that first meeting.
For a year, the couple made a commitment to fly back and forth every four to six weeks to see each other. During that time, in 2012, Jeff moved to Kansas City, Kansas, which was Chelsae's hometown. When her teaching post was finished in Seattle, she planned to move back.
When Jeff told Chelsae that he had a surprise for her, she hadn't suspected that he was going to propose. Jeff liked to joke around and express his love to her in small, sometimes silly ways.
Chelsae was flying into Kansas City because they had plans to go to Jeff's brother's ordination into the Fathers of Mercy later that weekend. Jeff picked her up from the airport and they went back to his apartment; he had takeout from her favorite restaurant waiting. After the meal, she thanked him for the 'surprise.' But Jeff mischievously said, “Oh, that's not your surprise.”
He brought out a dozen roses. He told her, “Each of these roses represent a significant moment in our relationship."
Giving her the first rose he said, “'This first rose is for our first date. I was nervous, but yet I wasn’t. I wanted to sit in that restaurant forever because when we left, I knew I had to go back to my hotel. I asked you to be my girlfriend that night!'”
Each consecutive rose delighted Chelsae with another memory, but the 12th rose represented a new memory because Jeff got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
He told her, '”This is the day that will change us forever; many times change is looked at as a bad thing, but in this case, it is the best change possible; a change of relationship that makes you one step closer to being my wife. All of these days, 49 weeks tomorrow, that is 342 days, have been the greatest of my life because I have you.'”
Jeff and Chelsae got married, on December 21, 2013, on the first ice storm of the winter. On the way to the church, Chelsae forgot part of her dress—her crinoline—and had to have her wedding party turn the bus around and rush to retrieve it. Nerves aside, when she walked down the aisle, she only had thoughts for Jeff.
Once I saw Jeff, it was like I had tunnel vision; everything around him was blurry. I felt so completely at ease that I was making the perfect decision,” she says. “The musician was still playing and we knelt at the alter it was one of those rare moments in my life that I felt like God's was touching both of us.”
“It was a day that I felt closer to her than I had ever before,” Jeff recalls. For him, this was another amazing moment that could be added to the bouquet of rose memories.
The couple is expecting their first baby in September 2014.