The Willow Ridge Homestead is owned by High-School Sweethearts, Jillian and Cody Messenger. They, along with their 9 Blessings, run the working Homestead complete with 30 acres to run and play on, with their Brown Swiss dairy cow Alice and their flock of 4H laying hens. The homestead is the culmination of 25 years of dreams. Their decision to offer their homestead as wedding venue is rooted in their deep love of marriage and a willingness to offer their beautiful land to lovely couples looking for a place to start their own “Happily Ever After”
Jillian and Cody’s love story is one straight from a storybook. They met at the musical passion play The Witness, in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the summer of 1995. They deepened their friendship at their local church youth group during high school. On April 2, 1996, Cody called Jillian and asked if he could come over for the very first time, before the evening was over, Jillian’s mother asked, “So when y’all get married…” to two young adults who weren’t even a couple. Little did they know how right her mother would be! On May 1, 1996, Cody asked Jillian if she would be his girlfriend and on June 19th he asked her to marry him. She said yes. They were engaged Jillian’s entire senior year of high school. They were married on July 1, 1997 and have been fulfilling their vows every since. Below is a post Jillian wrote after their 25th Vow Renewal celebration.
“So yesterday I was celebrating and renewing my vows so I didn’t post anything actually wishing my Beloved Cody Messenger a happy 25th anniversary. So today I will take a moment to do so. There is no possible way to adequately express my gratitude or love for my husband and our marriage in such a small amount of space this platform provides. 25 years ago, 2 young adults of 18 & 20 years stood before God and witnesses to commit to spending the rest of their lives together. Our years have been filled with many trials which have deepened our love & commitment to each other, and also many many Blessings that have grown that same love & commitment. 25 years of CHOOSING to love each other, even when we didn’t like each other. 25 years of remembering the 4 pillars of the best premarital counseling we received. #1 As you grow closer to the Lord – you will grow closer to each other. #2 Never stop dating, even if it is just a “coke date” #3 You WILL disagree, when you do, attack the problem NOT each other. #4 Love is a choice. Anyone you live with will at some point behave in an unlovable way towards you. Make the choice to continue loving them through that time, not acting in your anger or hurt during that moment to make choices you’ll regret later. Your feelings will lie to you and make you think things are worse than they are, or that they will never improve, do not throw away your covenant to one another during this time.
I am thankful for my husband’s patience, self-control, faithfulness, love, kindness, forgiveness, and the way he hears me, sees me, and cherishes me, while being my safe place & person…even through 2 decades of pregnancy roller-coaster hormones & sleepless nights with nursing babies who hogged the California king-size bed that have contributed to my crankiness more often than not. Thank you baby for still making me feel like a newlywed in all the best ways, while also relaxing into the comfort & security of a relationship where you’ve seen me at my worst & best – from growing up with me through my teens, into my 20’s, 30’s & 40’s and still choosing me. I love you Always & Forever – Your Riblet – Jillian Nicole”