Courtney and Brayden

How We Met

Brayden and I grew up in the same town and same church for nearly ten years. For the longest time, I only ever knew him as one of my brother’s friend’s cute younger brother. Up until the summer of 2015, there was knowledge of each other’s existence, but nothing much more than that. Entering my sophomore year of high school and his junior, we naturally fell into the same friend group amongst the high school students at our church. At the time, we both had middle-school-like crushes on other people in the youth group. As that school year came and went, so did those interests. As the summer of 2016 rolled in, that particular friend group reunited for two months of Brayden driving us around a lot.

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Courtney's Proposal in Lake Nantahala, NC

Most of us not having jobs or responsibilities, we spent our summer at beaches, springs, docks, and anywhere else that was cheap and fun. At the time, I had taken notice of Brayden’s love for Christ, and care for people. I knew I had developed feelings for him, but because of our major personality differences, I didn’t consider a future with Brayden to be likely. All the while, Brayden was praying over pursuing me. As the summer of 2016 came to a close, Brayden confessed his feelings to me in a Chic-Fil-A parking lot after youth group on a Wednesday night. Flash forward two months, after a late-night drive and 2:00 AM Waffle House stop with some dear friends, we began our relationship. After seven months of the ups and downs of overcoming major personality differences, I moved eight hours to Andrews, North Carolina to volunteer at a Christian outfitter for ten weeks. The Lord used those ten weeks to draw us each into a deeper relationship with Him and to reassure us that Christ is the source of our joy and comfort, not each other.

Courtney and Brayden's Engagement in Lake Nantahala, NC

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how they asked

The next year kept us both busy with school, work, and ministry at our local church. By the time May of 2018 had come along, Brayden had told me that we would be engaged by the end of the summer. I returned to work at Snowbird (the camp that I had spent the summer of 2017), with Brayden alongside me. The weeks were filled with a lot of fulfilling (yet tiring) ministry work, with which consumed our time. We spent a lot of time on the weekends traveling to nearby lakes and rivers with friends that we had made on staff. Because of what Brayden had said to me in May, I was expecting a ring soon. With only three weeks left in the summer, Brayden sat me down and told me that he was sorry he had gotten my hopes up, but that in reference to getting engaged in the summer, “things just didn’t work out” and “the timing wasn’t right”.

I wasn’t upset that I didn’t have a ring on my finger, but it angered me that, in my mind, Brayden had not stayed true to his word. Unknown to me, he had said that to throw me off. As the next couple of weeks went by, my discontent towards Brayden was fueled by the minimal amount of time we were spending together. He was spending a lot of time at his friend Glendon’s house on the weekends, which was the only time we had to hang out with each other. Of course, unknown to me, he was using some of that time away from me to prepare for a proposal. The day before he proposed was my friend Bridgette’s birthday. My roommate Claire made plans for her, Bridgette, and I to hang out at the lake that following Sunday night to celebrate Bridgette’s birthday. The next day after church, still upset with Brayden, I gave him a cold “I am going to the lake with my friends” and left to pick up Claire.

As we drove to the lake to meet Brigette, Claire was able to maintain normal conversation (somehow). As we pulled into the parking lot of the dock, I noticed Brayden’s car but didn’t think much of it considering he might have been there already with Glendon. I also noticed some lights strung down the dock and assumed it was for Bridgette’s birthday. When my car came to a stop, Brayden pulled me out of the driver’s seat and walked me towards the dock. When he began getting somewhat poetic (as poetic as Brayden can get), I put two and two together. As we neared the end of the dock, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. The next few moments were full of a lot of hugging, pictures, and a jump in the lake (fully dressed in my church clothes, if I may add). Our relationship is evidence of the unity we experienced in the love of Christ, even despite our drastic differences, and I pray that the Lord will continue to use us to advance His Gospel and bring Him glory.

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Special Thanks

Caroline Ellis
 | Photographer