Stephanie and Aaron first met when Kelly Coffey, Stephanie’s friend and a coworker of Aaron’s, brought Aaron to the Rock in April 2003. About a month later, the three of them went with a few other Rock members to the OneDay conference in Sherman, Texas. Aaron, Kelly, & Stephanie spent roughly 24 hours together in a car on the drives to and from Texas. Needless to say, some bonding took place at that time. As Aaron tells it, that was when he first became interested in getting to know Stephanie better. He says “I felt comfortable talking with her. I usually feel awkward talking to people I don’t know, but with her, I felt as if we’d been friends before.”
Stephanie had no idea of his interest. Over the following months, people at the Rock, including Stephanie, began to notice something about Aaron. He was incredibly helpful, and always available and willing to help. Whether it was car trouble, bike trouble, computer trouble, or moving heavy furniture… you could always count on Aaron to show up, do his best, and leave without accepting a thank you. This was no ploy to get Stephanie’s attention. It’s who Aaron is to the core of this being. And it was evidence of his new relationship with Jesus, which had begun at that conference in Texas.
Stephanie and Aaron hung out from time to time after the Rock. Through these interactions and the times he worked on her computer, helped her move furniture, and battled with her car, Aaron began to think that maybe this girl was someone he could share a deeper relationship with. But the time just wasn’t right.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2005 that Aaron mentioned his feelings toward Stephanie. They had been corresponding quite a bit by email and instant messenger. Their opinions clashed frequently and they often found themselves in heated debates. Aaron was even more attracted to Stephanie as he discovered her deep intellect and fiery passion. Stephanie became more and more frustrated with his stubborn nature, and couldn’t understand why he kept initiating conversations that always ended in a debate.
In March, Aaron wrote her an email with a picture of a yellow rose attached. He confessed that he was interested in a relationship. Stephanie turned him down, citing their frequent debates, and the shallowness of their friendship. Aaron was discouraged, but not defeated.
Stephanie began to feel that maybe she had been too quick to judge this guy that she barely knew. In an attempt to salvage the friendship, she took advantage of opportunities to talk with Aaron in person, and discovered there was more to him than he portrayed in public and in his emails. And they began to get past the surface of each other’s personality.
On May 28, 2005, Stephanie asked Aaron what his intentions were regarding a relationship. Aaron said he planned to be with her as long as she would have him. He didn’t want a temporary relationship… he wanted something permanent. With that confirmation of commitment, they became a couple. Stephanie and Aaron spent the summer getting to know one another better and developing the personality of their relationship.
In October, a car accident resulted in Aaron breaking his nose and his hand. Stephanie cared for him as he recovered, and until he was able to get a new car, they shared one vehicle. This was a time of intense training for both of them in patience, humility, compassion, and selflessness. Stephanie and Aaron feel that this was a pivotal point in their relationship, where they both had to make a firmer commitment to be there for each other no matter what. And this time of testing made it more clear to both of them that such a commitment involved more pain and more joy than they could have imagined.
As the holidays approached, Stephanie and Aaron realized that they were beginning to feel like a real family. As they cooked Thanksgiving dinner together, decorated their own tree, and prepared for Christmas morning, the idea of solidifying their commitment began to creep into their conversations. It was around New Years that Aaron first said “By this time next year, I think we’ll be married.”
Though they discussed the possibility (or probability) of marriage from time to time, it wasn’t until February that their plan became official. Aaron had been waiting to find the perfect engagement ring. But he was growing more and more nervous about picking it out on his own. Eventually, he realized that postponing his proposal just because he didn’t have a ring yet didn’t make sense. He wanted to marry Stephanie, and he wanted to tell her so!
So on February 24, Aaron invited Stephanie to go to Lowry Mall after work. Lowry Mall is a common area on the MU campus, where Aaron grew up skateboarding, and Stephanie spent many afternoons studying. They took their skateboards and had fun until the sun began to set and the temperature dropped. They walked over to Dominos and got a pizza, then went to a steam vent near the library where warm air from the steam tunnels creates a comfortable spot on a chilly evening.
After they finished their pizza picnic, they sat together and watched the stars come out, and the lights came on to illuminate Jesse Hall. Aaron wrapped his arms around Stevi and whispered “Will you marry me?” And she answered “Of course I will!”
Some of our Engagement Pictures:
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