5 years ago, when mutual friends introduced us. Gary was a graduate TA at the time and Catherine was an undergrad studying for finals. Naturally Gary didn't want to disturb the pursuit of scholarly achievements and didn't offer much more than niceties. Catherine wasn't surprised; she thought he was a football player and expected him to not give her the time of day.
Looks can be deceiving though, Gary having given up on sports by age 10 and Catherine an eager but easily distracted scholar.
Two years later they re-met through church. Gary had just returned from a year studying in Russia and Catherine had started leading the small group he had previously attended. Suddenly, Gary felt he needed some extra instruction in scripture and began staying after Bible study to wash dishes and chat. Their first date was a month later: real NC barbecue and a Carolina men's soccer game, both activities thoughtfully tuned to Catherine's expressed interests.
Many favorite dates followed, including ones in Paris, Gary's beloved Russia, and even Pittsboro, North Carolina!
All proposal and engagement photography provided by Carolyn Stotts.
On April 24, Gary invited friends and family representing different parts of his and Catherine's life and relationship to be part of his proposal at Catherine's parents' house. Siblings, parents, best friends, and mentors all came together to help put his plan into action.
Meanwhile, Gary told Catherine he would pick her up to go to dinner at a friend's house. Instead, that same friend, Julia, showed up at Catherine's door with a sunflower and card from Gary telling her to get ready to go on an adventure. Julia drove Catherine to her parents' house and stopped at the end of the driveway. There Catherine's siblings had gathered with another sunflower and another card from Gary. A bit further up the front field stood a group of Catherine's close friends with yet another sunflower and card. More groups of friends and family awaited Catherine as she continued down the driveway. Eventually she reached the edge of the woods and received a final card from her mom and dad, inviting her to follow a path of flowers through the trees. At the end of that path she found lots of candles, lights, and flowers and Gary waiting for her with some loving words and an important question. He asked her to be his love for life and she said yes.
And then there was much joy and celebration and barbecue had by all!
Like the story of how we met, looks can be deceiving. No matter how many pretty pictures we take or really cool experiences we have together, our relationship is between two imperfect people who will spend a lifetime learning how to love and serve each other better than the day before, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. We hold firmly to the central truth that no part of our story would have been or will be possible without the love and great sacrifice of Christ. He is the First and Ultimate love, and the one whose example we seek to emulate to each other and those around us. We look forward to marriage knowing we will be completely dependent on his grace, and not our own power, to love one another every day we will be given together.