I met Tyler in August of 2004 at the University of Delaware. I was 18 and a freshman at the time. I didn’t expect to go to college and meet my husband. I wanted to, but I didn’t expect it. I certainly didn’t think it would happen a few days after moving into my dorm room.
Laura Hoffmann was my roommate freshman (and sophomore) year at UD. We met when we were in 7th grade. My family was living in Dover, DE at the time and the school bus picked the kids in our neighborhood up in front of Laura’s house. Miss Maybe was our bus driver and she was about 100 years old. She used to run over curbs all the time and all of the kids would join together and yell “CURB!!!” as the bus rounded street corners.
I was the new kid in 7th grade and Laura was the first girl to befriend me. She asked me to sit with her and her friends at lunch and she would call and ask me to spend the night or go to the movies. The first few times that she called I was so shy that I made up excuses for why I couldn’t come over. But Laura continued to pursue me. She was and is a true friend.
Six years later, after I’d moved and spent 3 years in Mississippi, Laura and I were still friends and found ourselves living together. Laura had a friend at UD who knew of a local church that sent a bus to campus to pick students up on Sundays and take them to church. We decided to give it a try. We woke up early and walked to the bus stop. And that is when I saw Tyler for the first time.
He was standing at the bus stop, talking enthusiastically to everyone. He was wearing khaki shorts and an olive green t-shirt. He even had highlights in his hair. Highlights were sort of popular then and Tyler spent his entire summer surfing in Avalon, NJ, so they were natural. Or so he says. 🙂 He was smiling all the time, and it seemed like everyone he talked to loved him.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I thought he was amazing. He seemed so kind and warm, and unlike anyone I had ever met. I boarded the bus and sat behind him with my friend Joel. Before I knew it Tyler turned around and introduced himself. We talked for a few minutes and then we arrived at church and went our separate ways.
The following Tuesday I went to the Baptist Student Ministry’s large group meeting. Tyler was there leading worship. As I watched him lead a group of 50 students in worship that seemed to come directly from his heart, I thought, “Now that is a man.” I’d never met anyone who so obviously reflected the love of Christ and seemed so in tune with the Spirit of God. I stood in the crowd utterly amazed.
That night I told Laura that I was definitely going to date Tyler. I’d only really met him once, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could love him and that I might love him already.
I saw Tyler in the dining hall a couple of times that week. I used to hope that I would see him everyday. The first couple of times he didn’t remember my name, but in time he came to know who I was. I started helping him lead worship for BSM and soon enough we were hanging out all the time, writing songs, and playing music together.
One night Tyler called and asked if I wanted to get together. I had a group meeting for my international relations class (somehow I thought I might go into politics at the time…that seems crazy now!), so sadly, I declined. The meeting ran much shorter than I thought it would. Within 20 minutes I called him back and asked if the invitation was still good. He came and met me at the student center and we had one of the most intense, honest conversations I’ve ever had. We felt so comfortable together, and we shared from the depths of our souls that evening. Tyler told me later that after he called me the first time and I couldn’t hang out he’d been praying and asking the Lord for wisdom and discernment about our relationship. He told me that when I called back he felt like it was truly an answer to prayer.
We were still just friends for a couple of months after that evening. One day I was reading on a blanket outside of my dorm. It was a gorgeous fall day. Tyler lived in a building not far away and I was hoping that he might stumble upon me. He did. He had some reading to do too, so he sat down with me. After a while he looked at me and said, “I think I like you, Jenny Appel.” I said, “I like you too.” He told me that he wanted to spend more time with me and get to know me better. I was so happy that I couldn’t concentrate on reading after that and kept reading the same pages over and over.
A few weeks later we were singing together in the stairwells of the student center. The acoustics were incredible. It was nearing midnight when Tyler spoke to me honestly and openly about his past. He was ashamed at first, but my own battle wounds had brought me to a place of knowing that no sin is too big for the blood of Christ. I used to be shocked when I heard about a cheating wife or husband, or learned that someone I knew had a drug addiction. But I’d learned that sin is sin, and none of us are above committing even the worst offenses. That night I told Tyler that it was okay, and that he had been forgiven. We learned to trust each other. A few hours later we decided that we should date (we already were in a way). In hindsight I think it’s pretty crazy that we shared so deeply with each other so quickly. I don’t know that I would recommend that to someone who isn’t in a fairly committed relationship, but somehow it worked for us. We never had secrets. And when we began dating we knew that our intention was marriage. Neither one of us was looking for a casual or temporary relationship.
A year later Tyler asked my dad for permission to marry me. It was a bit premature as we were still very young and didn’t intend to get engaged right away. A year after that he asked me to marry him. He knelt in a puddle (yes, that really happened) outside of the BSM house and told me that I was the one for him. Eight months later we were married on the beach in Avalon, NJ. Again, I know this is cliche, but it really was a perfect day.
I have to admit that our marriage hasn’t always been easy. I had one more semester of school after we got married, so in a way it felt like we were playing house for a while. It was incredibly fun. We didn’t have any money, but it didn’t matter. Tyler worked three jobs and I had one job and class, but somehow we managed to play music 3 or 4 nights a week and felt like we were doing what we were made to do.
The Lord has brought us such a long way. When we met and even when we were married I never would have imagined that we would make music for a living and travel the country. It’s a difficult road at times, but it’s ridiculously fun and life giving at the same time.
I bet some of you didn’t know that our last name is Somers (pronounced like the season, “summer”). I’ve always said that if I had to trade my maiden name, Appel (pronounced like the fruit, “apple”) then Somers is an adequate alternative. Just recently we found out something pretty awesome about my last name. Avalon, the town where we were married, is named for an island referenced in the tales of King Arthur and means, “isle of apples.” It almost feels like our worlds collided long before we ever met. I feel at home in Avalon with Tyler’s family.
This has been a very abbreviated version of how we became Tyler and Jenny: The Somers.