Jonathan & Jamie Harwood
To say that we have a lot to be grateful for would be an understatement. When we reflect on the things we have to show gratitude towards, so many come to mind: Our upbringing in stable, Christian-based homes with loving family; Our opportunity for well-rounded education that has contributed to our career success; The fact that God drew us down similar paths that led us to one another; Our family’s acceptance, love and compassion for us as a couple and as parents; And our chance to raise three wonderful children.
Both of us were raised in the same small, rural community of Princeville, Illinois. We attended the same grade school and high school, albeit nine years apart. We had families that were very loving and faith-based. Our families instilled the value of having Church and God as the center of our family unit and relationships. Our parents showed us great examples of love, affection and how a relationship centered around God ensues. These examples and values helped shape and mold us into the men we are today.
Our families encouraged us to continue our endeavors following high school. They supported us emotionally and financially through our college adventures. They knew that we had the caring and compassionate characteristics within us that we needed to be successful with the grueling and cumbersome coursework that came along with nursing school. Once nursing school was finished, we took different career pathways with a variety of different jobs and departments; however, each one of those was a stepping stone leading us closer to where we are today.
Although our careers went in different directions, that did not necessarily mean that they did not cross paths. God definitely had a plan and purpose for putting us where we were supposed to be at certain times in our life. While Jonathan was working at a local Emergency Department, he encountered Jamie who happened to be marketing for a local Hospice agency. Jamie had also worked in this same Emergency Department and knew many of the same staff that Jonathan did. From this point, a friendship developed based on this commonality that we realized we shared. The days turned to weeks and weeks turned into months and before we knew it, we realized that friendship had evolved into much more. We did not exactly know what it was that our friendship had evolved into at the time, but we did know one thing: we were grateful that God had brought us together.
In a perfect world, we would have kissed, gotten married and lived happily ever after, right? Unfortunately, life does not always follow the fairy tale path. After almost two years together, we realized we still had some growing up and inner soul searching to do. We parted ways and while Jonathan moved on to Chicago, Jamie stayed back in Peoria. We spent the next four years apart with little-to-no communication. Although we had different life experiences and relationships during that time, we knew that we were never far from each other’s minds. As luck would have it, a random text regarding the Chicago Cubs sparked our conversation again, and we quickly realized we needed to move one another from the back burner and make each other a priority.
After some time of talking and courting, we decided that it was time to commit to one another. Jonathan eventually moved back to Peoria and we began our lives together. Eventually, we decided we wanted to make that sacred commitment before God and our families. We decided it was time to get married. Although the idea of marriage brought some trials and tribulations among our families, we eventually pushed past that and celebrated one of the happiest days of our lives on September 4, 2015.
We honestly did not think we could be happier or more grateful until the day in June of 2017 that we got the call that a little baby named Jacob needed a home. He had rough start to life and was then receiving care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. There were many uncertainties at this point about any long-term effects of his traumatic birth, his overall general health and his future with us. We decided that there were no guarantees in life and took a leap of faith and welcomed Jacob into our home on June 30, 2017. What an adventure it has been since that day raising this awesome, strong-willed and determined little boy. We could not be more grateful to have welcomed Jacob into our home and having him immediately loved and accepted by his older siblings, Hunter and Hope. He was also immediately loved by our extended family. Although we all have always viewed Jacob as our own, he was legally adopted and officially became a “Harwood” on August 8, 2018. Since that time, Jacob has continued to blossom into an active, smart and tenacious little toddler.
Some of you reading this may be wondering why such a long story? Well, it is difficult to tell you where our gratitude comes from today without explaining some of our past life experiences we had to go through to get to where we are. We are forever grateful for our loving families and the upbringing we had to shape us into the men and fathers we are today. We are grateful that God led us to similar careers that allowed us to cross paths and realize just how special we were to one another. Although difficult at the time, we are grateful for the time apart, which forced us to grow as individuals and truly find ourselves. We are grateful for God bringing us back together and making us once again realize just how much we care for each other. And we are forever grateful for the opportunity to raise three wonderful and beautiful children with such loving and supportive families.
The road to where we are today was not always an easy one to take. Then again, nothing in life worth having ever comes easy. We are forever grateful for our past experiences and the individuals during those times that led us to where we are today.
Jonathan and Jamie have been married for three years, They have three children: Hunter 18, Hope 15 and Jacob 18 months. Jamie and Jonathan are both Registered Nurses. Jamie works for Peoria County as the Peoria County Coroner. Jonathan works for the Illinois Department of Public Health as a Health Facilities Surveillance Nurse. Hunter is a Freshman at Illinois Central College, Hope is a Freshman at Princeville High School and Jacob attends Apple Tree Academy. During their free time, Jamie and Jonathan enjoy watching funny movies, taking short day/weekend trips and watching their mischievous little 18 month discover ways to keep his daddies on their toes.