How We Met Each Other - A Deaf & Hearing Love Story

Love has no boundaries. We believe this with everything in our souls since meeting each other.

It was the end of the summer in 2012 when Joshua found me on Instagram and started liking my photos. To be honest, I didn’t really notice him until he went back in my feed and liked photos from 10, 12, 14 weeks earlier…

I first thought to myself, “If he is willing to go back that far in my feed, he’s automatically classified as a creep.” Lol! Until I looked at his little profile photo and thought, “Actually he’s a babe… Who is this guy?!I then went to his profile page and saw his post from 12 hours earlier. He was in his car with two pups. The caption read: “Headed to the dog park with these two."

I couldn’t help but get lost in his beautiful green eyes. His smile was contagious. Over the next week or so we would like each other's photos on and off. Sometimes I would even unlike photos to like them again… just so he’d get another notification! Whoops, guilty!

After about ten days of this, I logged onto facebook and, low and behold, I see a friend request from him. I froze for a good ten minutes before I decided to accept it. (An unknown fact about me: I am very–and I mean very–good at google stalking. If you give me something or someone to search, I will typically come back with all the juicy answers and more within 20 minutes.) So I put my skills to the test and found out tons about him…

Joshua was born 100% deaf but has never let that stop him from achieving his goals and pursuing his passions. A few of the things I found out about him

  • He turned professional in motocross racing at the age of 15.

  • He was crowned Strong Man in the heavyweight division at the University of Northern Colorado.

  • He inspired hundreds at a local gym to reach their goals through a challenge that he created.

And there I was, laying in my bed at 11 pm, crying tears of inspiration as I read articles and interviews about him.

You see, I had never met a deaf person in my life prior to Joshua; so to see someone (who in society might be labeled “disabled”) who was passionately following his dreams was so touching.

I am one to wear my emotions on my sleeve; so as soon as I finished reading I felt the need to message him.

"Hey you, I just wanted to say thank you for being you, you’re so inspiring! - Julie"

Not thinking I would get an immediate response back from him, I was about to close my computer… but I heard the notification ding.

Wait, what?! He responded already?!

*** Flashback to Joshua’s perspective for a moment. ***

"After a few weeks of seeing this beautiful girl on Instagram, I decided to see if she had a Facebook. I searched her name and immediately found her and decided to friend request her. Moments later, I saw she accepted it. As I was driving on the interstate, I saw a notification pop up on my phone and saw it was a message from her! I decided to pull over (yes on the interstate) and started reading her message. It was so sweet! So I immediately responded to her."

We started talking daily on messenger for a few days before Joshua boldly asked me if I wanted to Skype (FaceTime wasn’t a thing back in 2012 lol). Everything inside of me wanted to – but I was so scared. I had never talked to a deaf person in my LIFE, let alone Skype with someone! I didn’t know sign language. I didn’t know how we were going to communicate.

But I figured, “Heck, it’s worth a shot. I won’t know until I try.” So, the very next night we Skyped. I can still remember the moment he was calling me… I had the biggest knot in my stomach, and I almost chickened out. But something inside of me started to feel peace.

Opening up presents afterward on Skype

Opening up presents afterward on Skype

I answered the Skype call and there he was, in the flesh, starring back at me with the cutest smile I’d ever seen! Joshua immediately typed on the screen, “I know this might be your first time, but don’t worry I can read lips and you can type, it will be fine ;)”

7.5 hours later, we ended our Skype call…

We talked about everything. It was totally crazy. A part of me thought, “Where has he been all my life?!” But the other part of me was so grateful for all the moments of heartbreak and discouragement I had faced because it led me to that very moment.

A few hours after we got off Skype, I boarded a plane and headed to New York to spend ten days with my sister. Throughout my trip, Joshua and I texted every day. On the second to last day, I got a text from Joshua that said: “hey, I would love to take you out on a date when you get home, how does 6 pm work on Saturday?"

Y’all… my heart SANK. I was excited, terrified, hopeful, scared… basically all the emotions. But again, I felt overwhelming peace in my heart–so I said yes!

Two days later, I got off the plane and immediately went to my sister’s house to get ready for the date. I had so many butterflies in my stomach! At 5:55 pm (Joshua is chronically early everywhere...) I heard a rumbling engine pull in to my sister’s driveway.

I raced to finish getting ready to walk out the door with my sister. (She is the older one, told me she needed to go outside to meet him to make sure he was legit.) As soon as she walked outside, she said, “Omg, it’s Joshua from my college dorm." I didn’t know if that was a good response or not (lol), but I hoped for the best.

Turns out, they knew each other from living on the same floor of their dorm building during their freshman year of college! Joshua greeted me with a big bear hug (Y’all, he’s like 6’2, 240 pounds of pure muscle. I had never in my life met someone with that much muscle.) A few minutes later, we wound up at Chili's after a failed sushi bar. It was perfect.

We walked into the restaurant and got seated in a booth for two. I soon realized just how good Joshua was at reading lips because, at that time, I knew ZERO sign language. I didn’t even know how to spell the alphabet in sign. God’s presence was tangible that night.

In fact, on our very first date, I ended up admitting to Joshua that I was struggling with an eating disorder (I had never previously shared that with anyone) because he asked me if I was okay as I moved everything from my salad aside, only eating the lettuce, carrots, and cucumber. I had never felt so comfortable with anyone in my life surrounding this topic. After admitting that I was struggling with an eating disorder, Joshua committed to helping me in any capacity he could.

Our first date night - Joshua and Julie Ledbetter

Our first date night - Joshua and Julie Ledbetter

The night was perfect in every single way. As the date was ending and I was about to leave, he said he had something for me in the trunk. My heart sank – I had no idea what it could have been. Moments later, he came back with a gift bag. “What?!" I thought to myself.

He told me to wait to open it until I got home…

A few hours later, I arrived home and called him on Skype and opened the present.

The first thing in the bag was a handwritten letter… *cue the tears*

I read the words on the paper and immediately started tearing up…I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The words were so heartfelt and written with so much love and support. I then opened the rest of the present: a running outfit to help keep me motivated for a half-marathon I told him I wanted to run. (With all of the fitness endeavors that I have accomplished over the years, I still have yet to check that one off… maybe one day.) That was the start to our beautiful love story… September 12, 2012.

"Despite our differences, we have come to realize that the deepest connections in life don’t require sound; they come straight from the heart. I can tell you from experience, if there is a will, there is a way."

God’s love and provision were so prevalent that night and, now six years later, having been married for three – it just keeps getting sweeter!

xx,

Julie