Haven’t read Parts 1 or 2 yet? Catch up here:
Part 1: CollegePlus and first meetings
Stephen’s story: Part 1 – Noticing a Proverbs 31 Woman
Part 2: Second meetings and big decisions
Stephen’s story: Part 2 – A deepening friendship & surprising messages
Part 4: A boy, a girl, and a ring
Part 5: How I orchestrated our own engagement pictures
We started Skyping on a more regular basis, which added a deeper level to our relationship. We were both counting down the days until August, which was when you were going to be moving down to Texas to start up the family business. Ever since I heard that you were going to be moving so close to me, I had planned on eventually moving down there as well. I wasn’t about to marry someone I hadn’t spent more one-on-one time with. I had figured on moving down around January, so that I could finish the semester at UCA and not leave everyone in the office hanging. But. I hadn’t told you any of this.
My parents knew, and of course, didn’t really want me to leave. They kept joking about how you needed to move here, not the other way around. But I was ready to go somewhere new and test my own wings. I wanted to prove that I could stand on my own two feet. And I wasn’t ready to be discouraged from that.
One Tuesday night in April during our Skype call, you said, “So, I’ve been meaning to tell you, my parents decided to push back moving to Texas for another 3 months. And I did not want to do that. So, I’m actually going to head down around the first of July and come stay in your neck of the woods for a while.”
“WHAT?!” was my literal response. Totally blown away. That was just like 8 weeks away. You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. ME. You were also telling me this a day after my birthday. Best birthday present ever. I couldn’t believe you were coming.
The kicker? I had already made plans with a friend to be gone almost the entire month of July touring the West Coast. Even better? I was even going into part of Canada on this trip. And you were going to be in Arkansas when I was stepping into foreign territory. How the tables turn. It was so frustrating even thinking about it then, knowing you would be in my home town for almost a whole month before I even got to see you again.
I think at this point we were both sure of where we wanted this to go. But we needed (or at least, I needed) more confirmation in my heart of what my head already knew. And that would only come through living in the same state. Which was going to be a reality before I knew it.
This whole relationship has been saying no originally, but then ending up with a yes. No to your original request to begin a relationship. Yes a couple years later. No to staying in Arkansas. Yes to you moving here and me staying. Life is crazy. Life is totally unexpected. Something this relationship has taught me is that we can’t be too caught up in our own plans. Open the doors for God’s will to come in and be ok with doing things you wouldn’t have ever chosen to do at first. Be flexible. Be willing to have your life turned upside down and ditch the “plan” you have in your head. Because it will always be SO much better than what you could have ever imagined.
We both started our trips on the same day, and you got to Arkansas when I was reaching the top of the western United States. You made it into Conway just days before I was entering Canada. So of course, I made sure to get a picture by the flag once I got off the ferry. 😉 You were being thoroughly introduced to Arkansas humidity, since you came during the hottest month of the year, while I was up in the Northwest wearing 3 layers.
I was planning on being back home late July 18th, and the closer I got to that day, the more ready for it I was. But things happened and we were actually going to make it back to Arkansas late Monday the 17th instead of late Tuesday! Since I love surprises, I decided to keep that little fact a secret. 😉 I didn’t text you very much on Monday because I didn’t want you asking anything about where we were at. And I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. We spent 16 hours driving that day, and it was kind of hard not texting you. Because basically my only other options were sleeping and looking out the window. Which I did a lot of. I got home at 2 am Tuesday morning and slept in as much as possible. I texted you maybe once that entire day after getting home, because there honestly wasn’t much I could say without giving anything away. You were coming over for dinner with my family that night, so I planned on “showing up” after you walked in the house. I nervously waited as I started making supper, butterflies in my stomach, jumping and peering out the window anytime it sounded like someone was pulling in. My siblings tried to trick me a few times by saying “He’s here!” I had the hardest time trying to figure out where to hide and how to best surprise you. Finally, you pulled up. I rushed to my room to hide behind the door. I listened as you greeted my family and put all of your stuff down. It was time for the big moment. I walked out and said “Hi!”. You did a double take and it was the best surprise I’ve ever pulled off. 🙂 You were shocked. Success.
If we thought that time went by too fast before, it was flying now. The next few months were gone before we knew it. We made monthly hiking dates in between my photography sessions and general life busy-ness. We went to Bible studies together, worked side by side with my family on Saturday’s at the property, and fit in lunch dates whenever we could.
Your family was trying to sell the house in Edmonton, and your dad was going to come on down to Texas to start up the family business sometime in late September/early October. You were going down for a few weeks while he was there to help him get that started. And I realized that I was not ready for that. I wasn’t ready to go back to texting now that I was used to seeing you every single day. It would be like taking two steps back and all I wanted to do was move forward.
But there were some bigger things coming before all of that took place. I just didn’t know it yet.