Our Story

Our first picture together

How we met

I was having a meal with a friend from church and she asked me if I knew of some good people around my age to hang out with here in Stillwater. I told her it was difficult to meet people (men) outside of college. We chatted for a while and she mentioned that there were a couple people she wanted me to meet. One of them was Ryan, of whom she described as being “outdoorsy, intentional, healthy, and loves the Lord.” I was sold. Well, mostly. 

We facebooked him and there was a picture of him and a girl and she said, “Well, I think that’s his sister.” I had high hopes. She invited me to go watch the Bachelorette at her house the following evening. We like to pretend that the show we were watching was “Man vs. Wild," but let's not change the story. I’m not too fond of things like going over to people’s houses with a bunch of strangers, but I said I’d try to make it. Nervous as heck and completely out of my comfort zone, I ring my friend’s door, and guess who answered? Ryan. It was semi-awkward because I didn’t know if he knew about me or if my friend was trying to set us up or what the deal was, but I just went with it and awkwardly said hi. To make things even a little more awkward, my friend asked if I would bring a scale over. She was about to go to Ethiopia for a missions trip and needed to weigh her bag. To ease some of the awkwardness between Ryan, Kari, and I...Ryan held the suitcase and stepped on the scale. Numerous times. I laughed.

There was a group of people that came, but the whole time I just kept thinking how cool I thought his guy was, and how encouraging it was to know there were men like him here in Stillwater. His obvious love for the Lord, intentionality with people, and pursuit of fitness and outdoors stuff is what initially caught my eye. He kept aiming questions my way, and I was my nervous self, but tried to act interested but not desperate. It was about midnight when the show was over and I was exhausted. I ended up leaving without saying bye to anyone. I remember thinking that I knew I would hear from this guy again sometime though. I even called one of my best friends saying "I really think I could marry this guy."  Ryan Facebook-friended me the following day and I remember thinking this was a big deal because he “had to search me because my name is spelled so different” Sold.

We started messaging back and forth and he asked for my number. We ended up talking for over an hour, when he asked me to coffee, Aspen, a local coffee shop here in Stillwater. I knew this was a big deal that he invited me to coffee because my friend who introduced us told me she wished she knew him better but that he’s “not a guy who just brings a girl to coffee.” I remember thinking that this is definitely my type (whatever that means). The coffee date went so well we stayed past closing. Afterward, we walked to a nearby gazebo where we talked for more hours, but the whole time I was distracted by the fact that I had to use the restroom so bad. This is really funny now, but it definitely wasn't at the time. Every place around was closed, but I was having such a great time that I didn't want to miss out on getting to know Ryan...but I could hardly think. I don't even know how I managed to make it home without something terrible happening, but I did, praise the Lord. 

I was so thankful for those first talks, and then the sweet texts messages the day after. After the first coffee date, came the first running together, to first meal together, and we simply couldn't get enough of each other. For weeks, I would bring games to his house to play, but we were too engrossed in conversation, that it took like a month to get to play a game together. 

The first game we "played" was a picture scavenger hunt that Ryan orchestrated. I was about to go on a trip with my sisters and mom, and he gave me a disposable camera and a note that read, "For the next two weeks, I want to learn more about you. Your story, your passions and desires, and your convictions. Anything. All through the lens of this camera. Here's to creating (and capturing) memories. P.S. I have one too." The picture above was our last picture on my camera to take. It is our first picture together. I knew he was special; he had won my heart right at the very beginning.
Just after we got engaged December 2010

The Proposal 

Tera and I knew pretty quickly that we wanted to get married. It didn’t take either of us very long to see that we enjoyed being with each other a lot more than we enjoyed not being with each other. I usually try to avoid cliché’s but if it wasn’t love at first sight then I would argue love at first date. It was a simple date filled with great coffee and even better conversation. We never seemed to miss a beat as we talked about what the Lord was doing in our lives, where we were, where we wanted to be and how we hoped to get there. Time did its normal thing and eventually the coffee shop had to close. Not ready to part ways, we strolled over to the nearby gazebo and continued to talk for the next hour. It was on this date that I knew there was something special about Tera. I knew God had placed us there for a specific reason. At the very least, fruitful conversation but more obvious now, the first stitch in the knitting of our hearts. 

It seems like these days proposals come in all shapes and sizes. From walks on the beach to standing atop the empire state building. From rose giving reality television to week long scavenger hunts, each one significantly different in their own way. None necessarily better than the other, just different and equally important to the two parties involved. It is however, somewhat ironic that sneaking around and little white lies often surround proposals. Not a great precedent but an arguably necessary one. Perhaps a little fun too. Having snuck over to Tulsa to buy the ring and ask for her parents blessing, I couldn’t wait any longer. For the men out there who have been in this position, you know what I’m talking about. I had the ring. I had the blessing. It was time to go get the girl. 

I must have checked my pocket fifty times in the span of three hours. I knew it was there. The pocket was zipped shut for goodness sakes. It was never about the fear of it not being there. It was about the fact that it was there. That there was a purpose for it being there. That after twenty six years, standing in front of me was the woman I wanted to spend my life with and now all that was left was one question. Four words. One answer. The right answer. The answer that young men long to hear when they meet the joy that is to become their wife.  You are here so you know the answer I received. So let’s talk about how I got there.

I took Tera to our favorite restaurant that we often frequent on our weekly date nights. Although the wait was unusually long, I was able (after a blend of persuasion and a mild form of begging) to convince Tera that we should stick it out. After all, we were talking about Coconut crusted chicken. We did, and as usual, the dinner and company was equally satisfying.  After our meal, Tera and I went to Aspen Coffee, home of our first date and many parfait, bananagram and coffee filled Saturday mornings. After an epic game of bananagrams (not important who won), I began taking the letters and writing love notes to my soon to be fiance.  She quickly responded with the gentle and encouraging words that my ears have become accustomed to and thankful for. Finally, I spelled out the words “follow me”, quietly got up and headed toward the door. 

My excitement and nervousness grew as we walked toward the gazebo that had captured our soul filled words that summer night many months ago. As I checked my pocket one last time, I began to tell Tera the joys that I have had being her boyfriend and how honored and blessed I have felt for having been given the opportunity to pursue her. I started talking about how much fun I had sneaking to Tulsa to buy the ring, the symbol of our covenant and how nervous I was to talk with her parents (at this point I think she knew it what was coming) and finally looked at her and told her that I loved her.  I slowly got down on one knee and willingly asked her to be my wife.  

This is the part where I talk about how she said yes and I got up, eloquently placed the ring on her finger, held her in my arms and fervently kissed her. Most of that is true, all except the placing the ring on her finger part. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I put it back in my pocket. Thankfully, Tera graciously laughed and patiently waited for me to place it where it has always belonged.