Choose Love: Extraordinary Love Stories

Johnna + Chris | A Toast to Love

July 26, 2019 Choose Love Season 1
Choose Love: Extraordinary Love Stories
Johnna + Chris | A Toast to Love
Show Notes Transcript

Johnna and Chris Farrel met in high school, but being just one year apart made Chris invisible to Johnna as a love interest. He was just her best friend's immature younger cousin. But he kept his eye on her and finally made a move when she was in college. Even so, it took years plus some difficult long distance negotiating before they were married. Three children and a few trials later, Johnna and Chris can definitely say they are now truly in love. Find out how this love story developed and how the two of them have turned it into a resource for others who want to build strong marriages. The story was curated by Ekanem.

You can continue to follow Johnna and Chris' love story by following their social media and listening to their podcast: Grow Yourself Grow Your marriage (on Stitcher Radio, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify)

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Speaker 1:

[inaudible] .

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the choose love podcast, a show that Chronicles the extraordinary love of ordinary people. Our hope is that the show will inspire us all to hashtag choose love. The show is presented by Ellen at Hera , your digital bridesmaid. We're here to take your squad moments to the next level and help curate your bridal style so that you can focus on love.

Speaker 3:

I'm Chris Farrell and I'm Johnna feral . We just celebrated our six year anniversary. Yeah, so actually we have known each other for a long time, kind of indirectly. She was my cousin's hot best friend. She was kind of around my family when we were younger. We were teenagers probably like 14 or 15. I was 15 you were 13 right? Right. Yeah, she's, she's older than me. We'll definitely make sure we note that we would periodically see each other, but I don't think we ever thought that we would get married at that point. Actually. Um , he lived about an hour North from us. My best friend is his cousin and we went to school together. And so, like you said, we would see each other kind of randomly at family type events, but we really didn't actually connect until college. Until college. Yeah. So in college , uh, she added me on Facebook and I was on the way to an away game , um, and I was on the bus and I just randomly had a feeling that I was gonna send her a message. And so I messaged her and we just kinda flooded it a little bit on the bus. And that's kinda where our first , uh, our first real connection began . Yeah. One of my biggest memories of Chris when we were younger was I was actually going to go on vacation with his grandma and aunt and his cousin and we were flying out of the airport that was near where he lived . So we stayed with his family for the night and I was like 15, and Chris was 13. And so we were interacting a lot. But at that time I thought that he was like a child because, you know, when you're a teenager, somebody just a little younger than you , you seem so young. Um , and his brother is actually my age. So at that time we were just kinda like all hung out. But I thought his brother was cute back then, which is so weird now cause he's my brother in law and we would be around each other just very casually like that. But like I said, he seems , he seems so much younger because we were, we were kids. We didn't actually hang out until, I don't know , we had been texting for a couple months after we first connected when we were in college and we decided to get together and hang out and talk. Yeah. Well it's actually a pretty funny story. So I was, I was at my dad's condo and I was just there working through the summer and I messaged her and said, Hey, you should come over and hang out and watch a copyboy with me cause that's my favorite movie. And uh , what did you bring back then? I was like wanting to, I was still kind of living my college life and so I was kind of hesitant to just go hang out and watch a movie, but I put into a hat I like wrote, should I stay or should I go and drew out of a hat cause it was like an hour and 15 minute drive and um , I pulled in , it said stay. So I decided I do best out of three and I ended up driving up there late in the evening and we kind of hung out and talked to like six o'clock in the morning. So I drove an hour North to Dayton where he was and um, we hung out at his house in, just kind of talked all night about life and I was kind of in the like party girl stage of college and just leading very different lives. But the cool thing is is we connected so well as we hung out that night at the condo. And like I said, we stayed up till like 6:00 AM that two days later he texted me and said that he was driving his grandma and her husband at the time to Disneyworld because they didn't want to fly. And we started joking about how he was going to have to ride like on the tea cups and stuff by himself. And next thing I know he told me that he had called his grandma who, if I kind of back up the story, she is the same grandma that I had already been on vacation with when we were younger with my friend to Florida to celebrate her graduation. So that's when, that's when we had first like really connected is when we were going on that trip and we stayed at their house because it was right next to the airport. And like I said, at that time I thought Christian was like a child. But then fast forward he tells me he's taking that same grandma to Disney world and the needs . He's just randomly says, Hey, you should go with me. And they were leaving the next morning and I was just like, I was working at the time I was in college. I was like, you're crazy. I can't just drop everything I'm doing and drive to Disney world tomorrow. And Whoa , Chris is pretty per [inaudible] because the next morning I was in a van with him and his grandma, grandpa on our way to Disney world.

Speaker 4:

It was amazing. I mean, I'm a , um, one of the least corny guys you will ever meet, but I'll say, I mean, how do you not fall in love in Disney world? Right. So it was an incredible experience. We actually, where we actually were lucky enough to , uh , to stay in the top resort in Disney world, the grand Floridian and I mean we, it was initially I was going there and she was coming with me and we were going to stay just kind of in the hotel room while they went to the parks and stuff. But they surprised us and actually said, Hey, we're going to get you guys park passes and you can go do your thing by yourself. And we were like, wow. So, so we spent a great time, just a travel in the parks . It was the first time we'd both ever been to Disney world and we got to experience it together. And uh, it was phenomenal. And what it led to was, you know, she had no clue what I was interested in her. But I mean, I was clearly interested. She was my cousin's hot best friend. So , uh, we , we were spending some time on the hammocks at night at the grand Floridian resort on the beach. It was beautiful. No problems in the world. Right. And , uh, gosh, I guess I got pretty corny here because we were, we were singing Disney tunes.

Speaker 3:

We were, we were singing Disney tunes. And then , uh , I knew that our relationship was changing from friendship to relationship. When he wrote in the sand, he wrote, you have beautiful eyes in the sand. And then like, we kissed, and I'm not even kidding. I think there were fireworks. And it was so corny because it was like Disneyworld, but it just, I dunno , it kind of all [inaudible]

Speaker 4:

we're just not a corny couple. So it's funny to look back on that story

Speaker 3:

when you were thinking a whole new world. I'm from Aladdin but so I can't sing, I don't have a singing voice. So I was kind of seeing the Aladdin part and Chris was hitting those high notes with it .

Speaker 4:

I'm just lost. I just lost my man card for that. So yeah, we came back from Disney world and we, we started hanging out even more. I think we both felt like boyfriend and girlfriend, but I hadn't necessarily , uh , made that super clear and official Facebook official, if you will at that time. And so it's funny, Gianna was talking to my cousin and she was frustrated that I hadn't asked her to be my girlfriend officially. It had been a couple of months talking and I mean, I wasn't dragging my feet or anything. I just, I , I just hadn't done it yet. And that very day that she was pretty frustrated, was the same day that I was actually in my dad's condo , um , together a pretty funny , uh, a pretty funny , um, way to ask her. And so if you can imagine she was on her way to me on her drive, talking to my cousin, frustrated that I didn't ask her out yet and I was scrambling as fast as I could in my dad's condo. I mean I went and got poster boards and I've , I w I mean I'm a terrible artist but I got poster boards and I cut them up into little pieces and I kind of made like a trail when she walked in the door. Do you remember what it said?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you had like a trail of , um, almost like a scavenger hunt of paper trail to follow. Uh, basically hinting towards that he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. He had a song that was like all lovey w playing real loud when I walked in. And then at the end of the trail , it basically said like, come in the room if yes, you'll be my girlfriend. And I walked in and he was sitting there with flowers all smiling, all cheesy cause he probably sensed that I was frustrated getting patient . We were long distance for a little while . Oh because I was in Cincinnati, he was in Columbus at school. It was really hard actually. Um, we, that's, we went through some difficult times , um , in the beginning because it was really difficult to make time to even speak. Um, he was busy with school and basketball. I was working and in school, so we would try to see each other on the weekends. Um, and then, you know, we had to go through some things hard in the relationship, work through, I really thrive off of words of affirmation and communication. And um, Chris was very practical at the time and very busy with school and kinda didn't, I'm not putting this on you babe, but didn't really realize the significance in that the only opportunity we had to do to develop and grow a relationship was to communicate when we weren't together. And that was something we really struggled with because I always felt like I was nagging Chris to like, talk to me and give me attention. And then he just felt like I should be understanding that he was busy and that we would see each other on the weekend if we were, if, if that was gonna .

Speaker 4:

Yeah. You know, I'm glad she brought that up because this story makes it sound like, Oh wow, Chris is so romantic. Chris is whatever. But the fact of matter is, yes, I was very selfish and yeah, we were young and , and selfish and I was, I was about myself and I think that looking back , uh, yeah, I didn't understand the power of communicating , uh , via text as, as, I mean we should have communicated more. We should have made time for each other on the phone and things like that. Um , and I think our relationship grew exponentially on the weekends, like she said, but I think the biggest challenge was between basketball, between school, between all the extracurriculars and, you know, just friends hanging out, wanting to play video games and whatnot. Uh, it was, it was much easier to , um, not make that time when I should have .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And since I was a little bit ahead of him life stage wise, I was about to graduate college at the time. Um, I understood that I was ready to move things forward and kind of, I understood that that's what it was going to take for our relationship to grow was actually spending time talking and making plans and, and stuff. So that, that was the biggest struggle. We actually took time off from our relationship in the beginning because it just winked . I think we needed that time to grow separately and realize that we did want to be together and that if we were going to be together, it was going to take work. We were together for almost exactly two years when or no , like,

Speaker 4:

well, so yeah, we were together almost two years and yeah, about a year and a half. And then I had the same anxious feeling of when's he going to ask me to be his wife? And so at that point, now let me be clear, she wasn't , uh, she wasn't showing me signs of this or being like a , you know, someone who was putting pressure on me at all cause that's a huge decision to make. But I mean I could tell she was getting a little antsy and I was getting ready to , so it's funny actually I'll credit one of my really good friends, I was walking in the mall one day and he knew we had a good relationship and we were walking by a ring store and he's like, Hey man, let's go in here and look at rings. I was like, what, what did he do ? He pulled me in there, he started looking at rings and I saw a ring that I wanted for her but it was a lot out of my price range and uh, and but then I was just kind of set on getting that ring for her somehow. Some way

Speaker 3:

you had me try, he had me try him on and I was kind of freaking out cause I didn't know if we were taking that next step soon or not. And when I tried it on, I about died. Yeah .

Speaker 4:

So the reason I had to try it on is because , uh, in my, in my lack of smoothness here , uh, after I went ring shopping was forced into it. Really. I went over to her house to visit her and I plopped down on the bed to say, Hey, what's up? And a freaking , uh , jeweler card fell out of my bucket . And so it was very clear that , uh, I was heading that direction. Um, and then fast forward a bit after I bought the ring and everything , uh, we were long distance. I had her come down. I had it all planned out that I was going to ask her to marry me and kind of the story, I'll start on it and I'll let her finish was from my perspective. I had realized I wanted to make it special and we had a dock down , uh , at a nearby Lake called Hargis Lake and it's beautiful. And I went to the park one day and I was like, man, this would be a great place. So I called a photographer friend of mine. I was like, Hey man, you think you could come and take pictures of my proposal? Just act like you're, you know, shooting birds or something like that. Uh, when we show up and I had my best friend and her really good friend there with us and uh, the way, the way I basically did it was we, we just had a nice little time go into the park and then I took her out on the dock and I'll let you finish the story.

Speaker 3:

I think , well you didn't tell the best part from my perspective, I had gotten up that morning and that town is a very small town. I didn't know what we were going to do, but I remember having this feeling. I was like, Oh, I don't feel like really doing anything today. I was just going to kind of wear sweat pants and hang out. And my friend was like, well no, you should shower and get ready. Like let's go get our nails done. And it was funny because while we were at the nail salon, we were kind of chatting about engagement and if and when it was going to happen. And I don't know how she kept a straight face because she knew that Chris was going to propose that day. But when we got to the park, yeah, I saw his photographer friend taking pictures and I just remember kind of thinking that Chris was acting a little weird. So when we're sitting on the dock, I see his photographer friend, I guess he's just taking pictures of ducks or whatever. Chris calls me over to the middle of the dock and I just remember my heart, like dropping. I think I knew he was going to propose, but it was very surreal moment because, well, I'd never been proposed to before, but he pulled out a little notebook and he just started reading from it and telling me how for the past 30 days he had been writing down every day writing down a reason that he wanted to marry me. And while he's reading these, I'm like shaking and still not really fully realizing that he's proposing. But yeah, he read 30 reasons why he wanted her to marry me. And then he dropped down on his knee and asked me to be his wife. And it was really exciting. But here's the coolest part is I thought the proposal was over. Our friends were there, the photographer got some professional pictures of us, but when we got back to his house on the door, there was a sign that said our story. And when we opened up the door, there was a trail of pictures , um, and Rose petals from the front of the door to the kitchen. And it kind of was like a timeline of our relationship. And then in the kitchen was one of his really good friends, has a beautiful voice and he was playing the guitar and singing. God gave me you. And then a bunch of our friends were there and there was a champagne toast and a whole whole thing of pictures hanging up around the walls. And it was, it was really special. As a little girl, you always envision what your wedding day is going to look like and who's going to be standing next to you and off, obviously most importantly, who's going to be at the end of the aisle. So that day I woke up just excited and anxious and worried all the things that brides are, we planned our wedding really quickly. We'd like, we planned it in five months because our thoughts were always, we're not going to get engaged until we're ready to be married. So once we got engaged, we decided whenever we want to set the date, let's set the date. Um, and actually my best friend who was Chris's cousin, she was pregnant at the time and due in the fall. So we kind of worked our wedding around her in our, in our jobs so that we could, you know, have , have all the pieces of the puzzle there. We wouldn't have ever even met if it wasn't for her. So anyways, we get to the wedding day and it, it just, it was awesome. The weather was great. My mom and sister did a ton to do the decorations for us and just laid out the whole, the whole place. Absolutely beautifully. Something I really couldn't have even picked out, you know, when I was a little girl, imagining how it would be in , um , man, I don't, I don't know, it was just a great [inaudible] .

Speaker 4:

The only thing that could potentially mess things up was , uh, so, so from my perspective, you know, John's waking up at 6:00 AM doing her makeup, getting all this stuff done , uh, for the wedding. You know, just nervous about what's gonna take place. And for me and my guys , uh , and a lot of guys might resonate with this, you know, just kinda get out of bed whenever , uh, we went and had some breakfast together and then we went to a park and played some basketball, had a great time. Then we went to lunch before the wedding, very close to the wedding. I might add right before pictures. And , uh, I almost made a huge mistake. So I actually had everyone suits with me and I lock them in my car. Did you have a cold AAA? So I, so we called the local police and we're like, Hey, I'm getting married in like literally an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, something like that. And they, they had an officer come by and they were dying laughing. Um, and uh, I got the suits out of the car. So that's the only thing that could have really gone wrong. Um ,

Speaker 3:

they luck . Luckily nobody told me that and I wasn't bred Zillow by any means. Actually by the time the wedding day came, I was prepared and I just kept telling myself, no matter what happens, no matter if something goes wrong or not, at the end of this day, Chris and I will be married. And that was the whole goal. So we spent a beautiful day with our family and our friends. Um, our wedding ceremony was pretty quick, but it had a lot of 90s touches. I'm the pastor who was Chris's pastor at his school, married us and just really, it really brought a lot to the actual ceremony. And then the reception actually didn't even break down on the way.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. That . That's another thing that I feel we're really blessed that it didn't turn out bad, but he did break down on the way. Um, and I think I had a flat tire and I'm like, I don't even know if he had a spare, but uh, yeah. So the pastor broke down and I got the suits locked in my car. But you know what, the wedding still went off with my perspective at hits. Yeah. December. I forgot to toast you. Yeah ,

Speaker 3:

just me . No , but then the reception was just so much fun. To this day we still have people telling us how much fun it was because we really, well let me, let me back up. We really brought everybody together because Chris , his dad actually put together this video for us, for our wedding where he interviewed us about our love story and about how we met and um , about what we were looking forward to as a couple. And so I think that was a really special element that made everybody feel connected to our story. And so the rest of the night was just, it was, it was great. We were all on the dance floor. We actually begged the reception hosts for an extra hour because we were having so much fun with our loved ones. And I don't know, I don't think it could've gone any better.

Speaker 4:

And they gave us extra hour. Yeah. Everything looked great. Yeah, it was wonderful, man. Well, I've never given a toast , um, to my wife, obviously because of the wedding. But if I were to give a toast to her now, I think it would just be how grateful I am to have her in my life as the mother of my children. Um , because I can't think of a human being that I would want to go through life with , uh , that I really truly trust , uh, that we make each other better. And , uh, and we're going to, you know, not only create a huge impact in our lives and on our, on our families, but also in other people's lives with , uh, with just how authentic we want to be in a real, as a couple. Well , I think our biggest lesson of love for me is, was becoming self aware and realizing really what our podcast is based around. Grow yourself, grow your marriage. Our podcast is exactly, we had to realize before we really fell in love and, and we say on our podcast, even now we're six years into marriage, but I don't think we fell in love until maybe like year three. Um, and I think what it was was realizing we have to become the best version of ourselves first to fill up our cup to be able to pour

Speaker 3:

out onto our spouse. Yeah, I'll, I will echo what Chris said. You know, in the beginning we loved each other, but it was out of more of like a practical love . Like, Hey, I get along with this human being. I love who they are. Um, we are trustworthy. We are real, we can build a good relationship together. But it wasn't until we started struggling. Well, yeah. First of all, it wasn't until we had kids and started and added a whole new layer to our relationship that we realized what it was going to take to . When people tell you marriage is hard, you , you don't really know until you know. So we always loved each other, but we really didn't fall in love until we started working our way up from the bottom. I guess from, from the difficulties we went through after having our second and third child and just really learning, like Chris said, that if we don't love ourselves and we don't pour into ourselves and want to show up for ourselves, then we can't really be that far for our spouse. Yeah. So the name of our podcast is grow yourself. Grow your marriage. Yeah. And so you can subscribe it, grow yourself, grow your marriage on Stitcher, on iTunes and on Spotify, and then website's still coming so you can follow us on [inaudible] .

Speaker 2:

Did Graham and Facebook at grow yourself grow your mirror like the podcast? Make sure to share it with your friends. It's available on all major podcast providers does search for the choose love podcast. I'm a Canva Bina and thanks for listening.