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
Stephen’s story: Part 3 – Becoming an Arkansan
Part 4: A boy, a girl, and a ring
Part 5: How I orchestrated our own engagement pictures
Part 6: Our Wedding
Part 7: Our Honeymoon
Now I was looking for an opportunity to meet up with your Dad alone without you knowing about it. We went out that next Monday (Labor Day) to work on your family’s property. I made it early before you arrived, however there wasn’t really an opportunity to ask him then since we were busy working with chainsaws. We had another great day together, and I actually had to ask you to take it easy a little bit and not push it, as you were still working hard even though you were just getting over a cold. Your work ethic is incredible!
On Tuesday, I tried to meet up with him to help finish up his day as I got off work early. He was about 45 minutes away, though, so he told me it wasn’t worth driving out there. Then I asked if he was available for lunch any time over the remainder of the week, to which he said either Wednesday or Thursday would be fine, just that he would still be down in Maumelle. I’d be free to come down which ever day worked best for me.
I left work for my lunch ‘hour’ between 11:30 and noon, letting everyone know I was expecting to be gone for about two hours. I made the 35ish minute drive down there and we ‘shot the breeze’ for a little bit before I said, “I need to talk to you about Caitlin.” He said “What’d she do now?” with a smirk 😉 We spent the next hour and a half talking about a number of things including; how much I love you, the extent of how highly I esteem you, the fact that there wasn’t anything else that I needed to see from you at this point to know you were the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, my work/business plans, marriage in general, etc. Your Dad noted that we have a lot of things in common; such as our love for the outdoors, our love for God, and our Bible study habits, and care for others, among many other things. The other thing he said was that it was a good thing I enjoy the foods I do, because it would be hard for a lot of guys with what you like to eat 😉 I’m super thankful for your cooking though!! 🙂 He went on to say that he was a little surprised at how quickly this had happened, but that he knew it probably would be sooner rather than later with our ages and how long we had known each other. The only thing he said for me that might be hard is that since I’m fairly organized, like he is, that I’ll have to get used to things not always being put away…which I am totally game for! 😉
By the end of the conversation, he had said “Stacy and I think very highly of you too…what more could we desire for our children, than to have Godly families…I love you…Yes, you have my permission.” And “Go for it.” Plus, I received a hug from him before heading back to work. (Good thing I have an understanding employer, otherwise I could have been in trouble for taking a three-and-a-half-hour lunch!!) All I can say is, Wow. I had heard of and seen so many poor relationships with in-laws…not me though! I am so, so thankful that we both have a good relationship with each other’s parents and that our parents look favorably on us. It is such a blessing! 🙂
I let my parents, siblings, grandparents, a handful of out-of-state friends, and my Christian brother, friend, and employer here know that I was going to ask you to marry me. But that was it. I was trying to keep everything under wraps, because I knew that the more people who knew, the higher chance of things being leaked. I was also trying to decide when I was going to ask you…I knew October 1st would be a great day, as it would be our one-year anniversary of us officially being together, however I really just wanted to ask you ASAP!! 🙂 With us going camping that next weekend with a group of friends at Mount Magazine, I was thinking about maybe asking you up on Sunrise Rock, because we were going to go see the sunrise there together on Saturday morning. Then I looked at all the options out there for rings…and I knew that wasn’t going to happen!! 😛
The camping trip was wonderful and we had a great time together 🙂 The sunrise was beautiful, and we spent the rest of the day outside hiking, playing sports, studying our Bible’s, etc. It was simply incredible! Your good friend Bekah had come with us to Sunrise Rock and took our first picture of just the two of us together, and she made sure we got a couple more before the end of the weekend 🙂 All said and done, well, I just couldn’t wait to ask the most amazing, Godly, beautiful, caring, tender-hearted, encouraging, and supportive woman I have ever met. It was so hard, not only keeping it a secret, but also not just blurting out the question to you!
I really didn’t know exactly what kind of ring you would like with all the options out there, so I texted your Mom one day while I was at work to see if she would help me out and maybe give me some suggestions on what you might like. She was extremely gracious and wanted to help, however, she said she wasn’t sure what you’d like either…Then she texted me a little while later and said she found a ring page on your Pinterest account! I tried looking it up, but couldn’t find it. So, she had it open for me one night to be able to look through it and I took pictures of all the rings you had posted. I found out later that this was a hidden page, but due to your Mom having your old computer, your account was still signed in and that’s how she found it. Soooo, basically I’m a stalker ;P I don’t know what I would have done without her help, though; Thank you Mrs. Stacy!! 🙂
I took those ring pictures with me into a few jewelers around town and ended up having a ring made at Brook’s, as they were able to design a ring by combining a lot of the different aspects of the various rings you had posted. I was super excited about it!! But it was going to be cutting it a little close for when the ring would be done and being able to ask you on October 1st…I just hadn’t expected to have that waiting period in there, since I didn’t know I was going to have the ring custom built. Thankfully, they were able to expedite it a little and they got it done Friday, just a couple of days before the Sunday I would ask you!
I was going to be meeting Dad down in Texas for about 10 days, and he originally asked if I could be down there for the last week of September and into October…but I made sure that it wasn’t going to happen that way. I tried not to be suspicious in this when speaking to you and I used our Symphony Orchestra date, which had been planned for October 7th down in Little Rock, as the main reason why I couldn’t go then.
My family was traveling through the United States and were planning on making a quick stop for a couple of days here in Conway. We had a good time trying to keep it a surprise from all our younger siblings 🙂 It ended up only being a surprise for Owen, but everyone else still only found out a handful of days before, so I’d say it was still a pretty successful endeavor! They were slated to arrive Sunday, October 1st, sometime after I would propose and before evening services.
On September 25th, I sat down with your whole family and broke the news to your three younger siblings, and asked if they would be able to help me take pictures and make sure things went as smoothly as possible when I proposed. They were all on board! Now I was just hoping that it was going to remain a secret for the next 6 days…which went really, really well. Except for Elijah letting it get out to some friends 😉 It was all good though as it never made it to you! We made some plans as to how we were going to do it, and something came up to where your camera wasn’t going to be available as we had thought…however, your Mom had a great idea; she was going to ask you to take family pictures out on the front porch and have everyone wear their favorite outfit. This put the camera and everyone out on the front porch, which was perfect; thanks again Mrs. Stacy!! I can see where you get your good ideas; it runs in the family 🙂
The rest of that week I was rehearsing what I was going to say to you over and over again. Saturday was really hard, because we spent most of the day together and not leaking any clues was extremely difficult… I delivered flowers that I had picked up Friday to your house for your Mom to hold onto overnight that I had to sneak in while you weren’t looking. Later, we went to a 1st birthday party that afternoon for a member from Prince Street, which could have been disastrous! Colton, the friend of Elijah who heard that I was going to be proposing (which I didn’t know at the time), was also at the party. He came up and asked if I was available Sunday afternoon to come play airsoft. 😛 I said I couldn’t, he said they needed another player, I said it wouldn’t be me, because I really don’t enjoy it, which was all true and I played it as cool as possible…I was still panicking a little inside tho…because you were standing right next to me!! That afternoon while you were at your photoshoot, Elijah apologized and told me he couldn’t believe he had done that, but said that he was sure that “Colton wouldn’t tell anyone else.” It’s funny how secrets often fail to remain protected, because the next day…
October 1st, 2017
Sunday morning, after worship I went and talked to Colton, kind of laughing it off, but then he said that Roby had dared him…so that’s at least one other person who knew…I had to get you out of there before someone said something to you!! John David had also mentioned something to someone when he was asked a pointed question, so it was starting to get around. Thankfully, we made it out and you hadn’t heard anything! We followed your family back to your house in my truck, and when we got out I slipped the ring into my pocket. Then we went inside as your Mom was making sure that everything was going to be prepped for lunch after the family picture.
We all made our way back out onto the front porch; Elijah being the last one as he moved the flowers from your parent’s room to just inside the front door. You got everyone lined up where they needed to be and then showed me how to take the picture. You’ll have me at least competent behind the camera in no time! 😉 I’m so excited to have the privilege of supporting and working beside you in your photography business going forward. 🙂 I took a few pictures of you and your family to make sure no one had blinked, you came over and said they looked good.
Your Mom grabbed the camera from me and said that she wanted to get a picture of you and me. She took a picture or two as we posed. By this time Josie had already got the second camera, Elijah had his phone out to video everything, and JD was grabbing your flowers for me!
You started moving away thinking we were done, however, your Mom moved in closer with the camera, I grabbed both of your hands and had you facing me now. Even though I had rehearsed probably 50 times and had it completely down, it still didn’t come out exactly the way I had planned and my knees were shaking violently 😛 However, thankfully I got out the important parts; culminating with the facts that 1) you’re the best fried I’ve ever had, 2) I love you, and 3) that I desire to serve you the rest of my life. 🙂 I drop to one knee and ask you the question that will forever change my life for the better “Will you marry me?” Why for the better? Because you hardly let me finish before saying “Yes!” I stand up, give you a hug, and whisper in your ear as I hold you, “I love you so much.” Then I had the exceptional privilege of putting a ring on your finger, showing that you have been spoken for 🙂
On that front porch, on that 1st day of October, was the first two times that I told you “I love you”. You were the first person, outside of family, that I have ever expressed those feelings to. I had known it for well over a month, but I hadn’t told you. That afternoon you thanked me, because even though you hadn’t said anything; you had desired that the first time I told you I love you would be the day you were engaged 🙂 I must have told you a 1000 times since then, but it still doesn’t feel like enough; Love you, Girl 🙂
We FaceTimed you grandparents, who were totally shocked and elated, sent a photo to a couple of your friends and family. I sent it out to my family and friends from out of State, but we wanted to keep it a secret from everyone else here in town 🙂 What was an absolute treat, besides everything else, was the fact that my family was slated to arrive in the next couple of hours and now I was going to be able to introduce them to their new, future daughter-in-law! 🙂 Have I told you I’m extremely blessed and thankful for all the blessings God has bestowed on me, that I can never, ever deserve?? Babe, you are my good thing and you are God’s way of showing me favor (Prov 18:22); you are more valuable than anything else in this world, and I could never trade you or your love for anything! 🙂
My family arrived just before we had to leave to get to evening worship in time! It was wonderful being able to introduce you to everyone in person. My Mom even went straight to you and gave you a hug before me 🙂 We made it into worship, and during the announcements when it was said that we had gotten engaged that afternoon there were a few gasps behind us; we had surprised nearly everyone 🙂
Here we are, over a half of the way to April 6th. Less then three months away, before our lives will be forever joined together 🙂 While the weeks seem to be going by slowly, I know that it will be here before we know it. We will most definitely be busy with wedding prep, finishing getting the house ready, work responsibilities, your photography trip, etc. There isn’t going to be much down time. I am so, so excited for the day I will be watching the most beautiful woman, dressed all in white, walking towards me. What a privilege it is, that on that day I will have the right to dedicate my life to you. Caitlin, I love you now and forever! 🙂
Part 5 – Our Wedding