Mark and Dawn Jackson
October 6th, 1990 was not a day that either of us expected, but you never know what can happen when you open yourself up to new experiences. In our case, we turned out to be pleasantly surprised with the results of a blind date that neither of us really wanted to go on. We were both tired from long weeks at work and strongly considered staying home. However, instead of cancelling like we would have preferred, we decided to humor our friends who had arranged the evening for us. Little did we know, this chance meeting was going to lead to a marriage and a life long relationship with our best friend.
After dating for a little over a year we were married on December 7, 1991. In the years that followed we found that one of the things that continued to attract us to each other were our differences. We had different personalities, different wirings, and different likes. Fortunately for us, we didn't let these differences drive us apart. We were able to realize that above everything else, we loved spending time with each other. Even though we were very different people, we were very compatible with each other. Our specific personalities flourished as we grew together and experienced new things. We helped each other to grow and expand our horizons and we still enjoy spending time together just as much as we did back on that Saturday in October.
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My name is Caleb Jackson and I am 23 years old. I have lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the majority of my life, but spent four years in Winfield, Kansas while I was attending college. I earned my Bachelor's and Master's degree at Southwestern College in Business Administration. During my four years at Southwestern, I ran cross country and track with some great people and under an amazing coach. I learned a lot during this period of my life when it came to getting to know people and how to get along with them. I was surrounded by people who were raised differently than I was and therefore we had a lot of different ideas about "how things should be" in the world. I had plenty of late night conversations with friends where we each tried to explain to each other why our thoughts were the correct thoughts to have and the other person's thoughts were wrong. This usually ended up in heated arguments that could have been avoided by asking more questions and attempting to understand differing points of view. Fortunately for my friends and I, the conversations we had provided an opportunity to grow closer together and we began to understand each other on a deeper level than just running together, or being in the same classes. The more conversations we had about our differences, the more we began to understand each other and were able to listen and adopt new ways of thinking. The people skills I learned in college allowed me to create some friendships that will last a long time.
After college, I began working as the assistant director for the group home my dad owned where I assisted in caring for thirty-two state custody children. Working with those kids on a daily basis was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. They taught me how to care about people in a way that I had never thought could be possible. My eyes were opened to what it really meant to get to know someone and all of their baggage before making a decision about who that person is. I learned that surface impressions tell you almost nothing about an individual, but taking the time to understand what goes on inside of a person, provides the most rewarding relationships.
I am excited to be working on Love without Labels. It is a great opportunity to continue to grow while creating new relationships, while spreading a message of love and understanding. I look forward to interacting with you and going on this journey together!
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Josh Jackson & Emma Groves
My name is Emma Groves and I am 22 years old. I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a suburb called Jenks. For most of my childhood, I was a cheerleader. I started in gymnastics when I was six years old which gave me the training that I needed to participate in cheer. As I grew older,I decided that I wanted to cheer competitively. This only lasted a few years, and by my sophomore year of high school I decided that I did not enjoy cheering as much as I had in the past. I spent the next few years of high school working on figuring out who I was and trying to set a different path for myself. I graduated from Jenks High School in 2013 and began attending Tulsa Community College.
During the transition from high school to college, I did not have a career path in mind for what I wanted in my future. I spent a lot of hours in school working toward a degree that I wasn't sure I wanted. Ultimately, after a year I decided that I needed to take a break from school to see what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. My first job after leaving college was a gymnastics coach for young kids. This was very fulfilling for me. I was able to work with young kids from ages two to twelve and help them to learn the skills needed for cheering and dancing. I found so much joy in helping to show these kids how to reach their goals. During that summer, I met a couple with two year old twins that were enrolled in my class. We really hit it off when they saw how I cared for their kids during my classes. As a result of this, they asked me if I would consider being a full-time nanny for their kids. I took some time to think it over and ended up deciding that I would give the nannying job a try.
I quit my job as the gymnastics coach and went into being a full-time nanny. I couldn't have asked for better kids or a better family to work with. I fell in love with all of them, especially the twins. During December of 2014, I picked up a second job during the evenings. I worked as a waitress at Upper Crust, an upscale pizza restaurant here in Tulsa. Shortly after I began working at Upper Crust, I decided to take on more than just waiting tables, I began bartending, taking on responsibilities as a shift lead, and working as a manager's assistant. I did this all in hopes of moving up in the company. I really enjoyed the hard work and time I put into the restaurant, and I loved the people I worked with, which made the hard work more worth it. I thought I had my career figured out, until one day a guy came in to eat and asked to set in my section. This day changed my life forever.
My name is Josh Jackson and I am 21 years old and live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I grew up playing several different sports. My passion for each sport I played wavered as I struggled to choose what kind of athlete I wanted to become. During my sophomore year of high school I fractured my foot while training for a decathlon. This was a really difficult time in my life. I thought I had found a sport that would allow me to fulfill all of my different desires of being an athlete. Due to this injury, I had to rediscover who I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do about moving forward in the sports world.
After recovering from my fracture, I decided that my passion was not in track and field anymore, but that I wanted to go back to playing basketball. Thanks to countless hours of practicing and dedication, I was able to make my high school basketball team. While playing for my remaining years in high school, I felt that if I really worked hard, I would have a shot at earning a college scholarship. I practiced for countless hours on and off the court in order to reach my goal. During my final semester of my senior year, I was able to make my dream a reality.
I earned a college basketball scholarship to Bethal College in Newton, Kansas. During my first season at Bethal I fractured my foot again in the same spot as before. What should have been a six to eight week recovery turned into fifteen weeks followed by a surgery where a plate and five screws were placed inside my foot. I scheduled to have my surgery done in the summer so that I would be able to finish my school year. One of the darkest times in my life turned out to be one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.
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Our story began with two crazy parents going to dinner. They felt that their waitress would be great match for their son based on personality, so they began asking her questions to see if she might be interested in entertaining meeting their son. These crazy parents happened to be Mark and Dawn and the son and waitress happened to be Josh and Emma. After going back to dinner at Upper Crust several times, Mark and Dawn insisted that Josh go and meet Emma despite the fact that he was in Kansas attending school. When he arrived back home for the summer, Josh decided that he would go and meet Emma to see if there was any chemistry.
That day in May turned out to be life changing for both of us and is marked as one of the best day in our lives so far. The day after we met, Josh had his foot surgery and was unable to walk for eight weeks. We spent the rest of the summer talking and getting to know each other, but were unsure if we wanted to begin dating since Josh would be returning to Kansas in the fall for school. We continued to talk even after Josh returned to school but quickly realized that we hated being away from each other. During that fall semester we were able to be together almost every weekend because Josh would drive back to Tulsa so we could spend time together. Josh attempted to continue playing basketball, but his foot never fully recovered. Ultimately, he ended up having to give up college basketball. Shortly after this, he decided that he would move back to Tulsa and finish school in order to be closer to Emma. A year later we got engaged and everything else is history. We now live together and have plans to get married in April.