Haven’t read Part 1-3 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 3: When 1,935 miles apart gets cut down to 15
Stephen’s story: Part 3 – Becoming an Arkansan
Part 5: How I orchestrated our own engagement pictures
We went camping with a bunch of our friends up on the highest point in Arkansas, aka Mount Magazine early September. I couldn’t wait to do this with you, because not only is this one of our favorite activities, we also met for the first time on a camping trip. But this September camping trip is also when we took our first picture together with just the two of us without any siblings, thanks to my sneaky friend, Bekah. The three of us got up at 5:15 am to hike about a mile to watch the sunrise, and it was well worth it. I had been planning on asking her to take a picture of you and I later on as the sun was a bit higher in the horizon, but she beat me to it. I kind of have the best of friends. 😉 Then once she found out that her photo was the first one we had taken together, she made sure she got some more pictures later on in the day while we were hiking.
I knew you were planning to go down to Texas sometime soon, and your dad originally asked you to come down the last week of September. You told me that you weren’t able to go then, because you already had plans that week. This kind of confused me a little bit and raised a bit of suspicion. Because with the part time job you were working, you barely knew what you were doing each week. Your work schedule for the week would be given to you on Sunday most of the time. So how in the world did you already have plans for that week almost a month in advance? I knew it was coming up on our one year anniversary of that first phone call back in the previous Fall (you know, the one I freaked out about when I saw what time it was when I got back in the car from my photoshoot??) But since I like surprises, I was going to keep my mouth shut and not ask any questions. For the next couple weeks, anytime I would start to get an inkling that something might be happening, a remark would be made by someone else and I would get totally thrown off the track and tell myself I was just making something out of nothing. It entered my mind that you might propose, but it was more of wishful thinking and would immediately get pushed out of my mind as not even a possibility. I kept doing that until I was sure it wasn’t going to happen.
As the days got closer, nothing too suspicious happened and nothing else was said about any more plans, so my suspicions slowly faded away. Besides, we were busy trying to keep another secret. And failing in the end, partly thanks to me. Your family was doing some traveling in the US to see family and friends, and it ended up working out that they could swing through Arkansas towards the end of the trip. We were trying to keep it a secret from the youngest members in both families, because we knew that it would be the best surprise ever. It ended up only being a surprise for your youngest brother, but it was still worth all of our best efforts to keep it a secret for as long as possible. They were scheduled to arrive October 1st sometime in the afternoon in between worship services. They wouldn’t be here long, just that evening and all day the next day. But I was so excited to see everyone for the first time in person.
Finally, September 30th rolled around. Your family would be arriving in just 24 odd hours. Mom told me that she wanted to get a family photo the next day after services, because I would already be in camera mode since I was taking pictures of some new members at church after morning services. I was a little confused, because usually I’m the only one who pushes for family photos. Mom almost NEVER asks or comes up with the idea to take a family photo. Plus, we just took family photos the year before on Thanksgiving. I mentioned this to her, and she said she would still like to take another photo. She also suggested we might want to give one to the Johnsons after they left. Then she said that instead of me picking out the colors and everyone’s outfits, we should all wear our favorite clothes instead. The photographer in me instantly thought this was a disaster waiting to happen. Because I know our family members have very different favorite colors, and they don’t always go well together. Mom told me she thought it would be neat and the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. It would be each of us in our own personality.
October 1st, 2017
After getting home from church services Sunday, we all gathered on the front porch to take our family photo. Our photographer? Stephen. I got my family all posed and showed him how to use the camera. Before you know it, I’ll have him shooting side by side with me at my future photo sessions. 😉
Mom got the camera from Stephen and said, “Now I want to get a picture of you and Stephen.” Pose, smile, click, and I start to move away because I think we’re through. Then Mom moves closer and puts the camera up to her face again. “Oh, I guess we’re doing another closer”, I say. Then I hear my name. Both of my hands are now being held and I’m turned to face my best friend. I still have no clue what’s going on. I honestly don’t feel like I’m even a part of reality. Then you said some of the sweetest things my ears have ever heard.
As soon as you said “I want to spend the rest of my life serving you”, I finally realized what was really happening. Then you got down on one knee and said those four amazing, life changing and magical words. “Will you marry me?”
And of course I barely let you finish before I said yes. Everything was such a blur, I honestly couldn’t remember everything you said. So I’m so glad that not only did we get photos, but my smart brother videoed the whole proposal on his phone.
We FaceTimed my grandparents, who also had no clue about your proposal plans, which was quite the feat on your part because you were living in the same house with them. Other than sending a photo and the news to your family and some of mine, we kept it a secret for the afternoon. Your parents were on their way and due to arrive in about 2 hours. So now, instead of meeting them as “the girl Stephen is interested in”, I’m now meeting them as their future daughter-in-law. Whoa…
I couldn’t wait to announce the afternoon’s happenings to all of my friends and church family that night, and I think we pulled of a successful shocking surprise. There were a couple gasps in the crowd when the news slipped out during the announcements. 😉 I think I smiled all day long. That ring on my hand felt so good and so wonderful. The entire day felt like a dream. And I honestly didn’t sleep very much at all that night.
I’m afraid April 6th, 2018 is going to be 6 long months away, but I’m also pretty sure it will fly by. October will forever be a special month to me, not only because I love Fall, but because it was the month we first started talking way back in 2012, it was the 1st day of October that we officially started a serious relationship, and one year later on October 1st, I said the happiest “yes” I’ll ever have the privilege of saying.
Stephen’s story: Part 4 – Proposal and a Resounding “Yes!”
See our engagement pictures here and read the story of how I orchestrated our own engagement pictures!!