Erik and Stephanie

Congratulations to Erik and Stephanie! We were thrilled to see their engagement photos and hear more about their love story on New Year’s day; the perfect way to kick off the new year with love!

“I’m sitting here reflecting on 2020 and all the things that it held. I started off this past year with a deep surrender of who I am and all I desired for everything God desired for me. If I’m being real, it’s been the hardest year of my life.

I never thought the things that happened would’ve ever happened to me. I faced a lot of heartache, depression, betrayal, loneliness, anxiety, insecurity, and some other hurts, to say the least. When I thought my world was falling apart and was on the brink of letting it push me away from God — I just wanted to quit my position and move far away, and start fresh — God told me through some pretty amazing people to stay and to draw closer to Him. They told me to remember that God placed me here and although I couldn’t see it now, that He was going to make something beautiful out of all of it. They told me to embrace the pain and feel it, but to not stay there. Feel it, process it, and move forward.

Little did I know, a little more than a month after my chaos, that God would bring into my life, the sweetest gift I could ever pray for. She started coming to Friendship North after quarantine lifted and we had never even really spoken, except maybe a “good morning”.

After the divorce, we finally met and made plans to hang out. (She wanted me to show her some guitar stuff and I canceled on her for my “all things” ink - ironic huh) -We finally hung out- She quickly became my best friend. We’ve shared all our dirt with each other — our stories — our weaknesses, hang-ups, habits — our messes. The first time I asked her to hang out, I wasn’t even thinking of anything more than just having somebody to grab lunch with and listen to my friend’s band play. (She wouldn’t even let me pay for lunch)

From that moment, we just grew closer and closer, praying, a lot of laughing, crying, deep and light conversations, hikes, road trips (with chaperones) lots of coffee, worship, reading the Word together. We’ve had moments where we’ve had to encourage one another and to help each other remember all the faithfulness God has shown us. I remember not long after we started hanging out, I was praying about her in my kitchen and I felt the Holy Spirit tell me “she is special” and I knew from that moment, I wanted to pursue her. We believe God put us in each other’s lives to heal and mend, and to let us feel what truly loving someone is all about. We aren’t perfect by any means and we are both still messes but we are messes together that want and desire God’s best for our lives.

After a lot of prayer, seeking counsel from our pastor, parents, and some really close friends, we knew that we wanted to share this life with each other and let God develop our journey and it’s been a beautiful one, to say the least! She is my gift and I pray with Gods help, I will always treat her as such. The worst year ended with God’s favor!

My wife told me before I asked her to marry me that if I was going to get her a ring that she didn’t want anything fancy or gaudy, but something antique looking and different than the norm. A friend of mine sent me a link to Walton’s and after browsing through a lot of the rings, I found it and knew it was it. And it’s crazy, it actually looks like some of her family heirlooms.”

Photography by John David Crowe (@johndavidcrowe)