an inside look at what he was thinking throughout our 7 year friendship
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
Part 4: A boy, a girl, and a ring
Stephen’s story: Part 4 – Proposal and a Resounding “Yes!”
Part 5: How I orchestrated our own engagement pictures
Part 6: Our Wedding
Part 7: Our Honeymoon
I arrived back in Edmonton and texted you saying that I would like to start Skyping every week now, which you were totally game for. It was far too long waiting two weeks in between seeing you. Even seven days was still more than what I wanted it to be, especially after having the privilege of spending those 5 days with you and your family.
Before coming to visit, I had been struggling on how to be able to spend more time with you. While Texas was much closer, it was still a long weekend trip to drive up. However, with the offer from your grandparents to allow me to stay with them, I saw it as God opening the door to me spending some time in your neck of the woods. Before even mentioning this to my parents, Dad offered for me to visit you a month early before the family was ready to leave Edmonton. Everything was starting to come together! Once everything was finalized that I would for sure be coming down, I didn’t tell you right away. It was really hard waiting those handful of days, especially since one of them was your birthday! However, I wanted to surprise you and be able to see your face when I told you, so that next Tuesday, the day after your birthday, I told you on our Skype call and you were shocked! 🙂
This was late April and I’d now be pulling into Conway early July. This was going to come fast! I knew you had already made plans to be gone on a road trip for most of July, even making it into Canada for a day, but it was just so nice knowing that I would be here to welcome you home. 🙂
On July 1st I left Edmonton, crossed into the United States on July 2nd, and pulled into Conway on the 6th in time for supper with your family and grandparents. I had not been to your grandparent’s house since 2014 when I had come for the camping trip, and now it was going to be my temporary home. I was convinced just one year ago I would never see this place again. God sure works things out in ways that I could have never have planned out myself, and I am so, so thankful for it! 🙂 You were scheduled to be back late on the 18th. Those two weeks went really well, I met many of the people who you grew up with and are close to, spent a lot of time with your family, and was quickly introduced to the warm, muggy Arkansas summers 😉
I was so ready to see you again leading up to the end of your trip. I couldn’t wait to see your face, hear your voice, and give you another hug. 🙂 Two and a half months, while it had gone rather quickly in one sense with everything that had happened, it still seemed like forever not seeing you!! Unless something went terribly wrong, I knew that I was going to marry you. I only needed to spend more quality time with you becoming more comfortable with you in person. This was required only to confirm who I thought you were, of which I was all but 100% certain at that point in time.
We had been texting quite a bit every day, however I didn’t hear from you much on either the 17th or 18th. You must have just been busy, and I didn’t think too much about it. After work on Tuesday the 18th, I came by your house for supper and to spend the evening with your family, as I had done nearly every evening since arriving. When I texted your mom to give her a heads up I was on my way over, she had said she wasn’t there, but that the kids were home. I walk in the door. Said “hi” to Josie and Elijah. Someone walks around the corner from the hallway and says “Hi!”. My first thought was, “Oh, Mrs. Stacy made it back.” Then on my double take, I realized it was you! Shocked me big time. You totally got me 🙂 I came right up to you to give you a hug, then realized I was still sweaty from working outside all day, but you said you didn’t care and hugged me anyways. 😉
There was another Youth Lectureship that weekend, like the one you had invited me to the year before. Oh, how things had changed over the last 12 months. I was so thankful for it too! 🙂 This was also when I told you that I would be staying longer in Conway than originally planned. I still wasn’t sure that I’d be living here long term, however I knew that I wouldn’t be leaving without you coming with me. Over the next few weeks I got an Arkansas license, registration, and insurance for my vehicle. I was becoming more and more of an Arkansan each day it seemed, which was great, because you just happen to be one too 😉
August-September 2th 2017
The next two months flew by…I still don’t know where the time went. We had monthly hiking days hitting different trails all around Arkansas, attended a number of Bible studies together, spent a few Saturdays working side by side out at your family’s property, had lunch dates every week or so, and many, many enjoyable evenings playing games with you and your siblings after eating supper together. It was in those evenings that I truly saw who you were in those real, everyday, unpolished situations. This is where I completely fell in love with the most gracious, caring, tender-hearted, God-honoring, funny, etc. woman I had ever met 🙂 You also happen to be more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen in my life, which doesn’t hurt either! While I am extremely thankful for this, it is secondary for my attraction to you. Because honestly, even if I was blind, I wouldn’t want to marry you any less 🙂
I was getting ready to go meet my Dad down in Texas and help him get the family business up and running, however at the same time I knew that without a doubt you were the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I spoke to my parents about it the last week of August. Then on Saturday, the 2nd of September, you and I went hiking out at Petit Jean Mountain. This was the first day we held hands. I asked you if I could, and you replied that I “can reach out and take it at any time” This still puts a huge smile on my face 🙂 On the way home we had a very real conversation about what we had learned the most from in our lives, what we saw for ourselves in the next 5 years, etc. If I hadn’t known before, I did now, without any reservations. Caitlin, you were the woman of my dreams and so much more! You where who I had been praying for since before my teenage years, only indescribably better. And you were the personification of God’s great favor, mercy, and blessings on me 🙂
Now I just needed to speak to your Father. With his blessing, and once I had a ring, I couldn’t wait to ask you to marry me!! Without letting the cat out of the bag though. I knew you loved surprises…so I was going to do everything I possibly could to keep it under the radar, as much as was in my control, anyway.