I was in a fluffy, purple princess dress in the middle of a short, poky, bushy tree (thank you Texas hill country) being guarded by a small clan of ten year old boys. Normal, right? I see a group of tween boys running up to save me from the evil capturers guarding me and they are getting tagged out left and right; my fate was up in the air. Would I be a maiden trapped in this poky bush tree forever?! But then I see a handsome chief running towards me avoiding those scary ten year old boys dodging left and right, weaving in and out and next thing I know he has my hand in his and we are running together to safety. Yes, this is all true. I still have a small scar from the barbed wire fence he helped me climb over. We ran hand in hand to safety, complete strangers. Funny enough, once we got to the safety road we had to walk down it together to get to where everyone else was and someone thought it would be funny to sing the wedding hymnal song and everyone else joined in (how crazy and fortuitous is this btw). Uhm.. awkward, I’m with this good looking guy holding his hand and I don’t even know his name and people are singing the wedding song..? I broke the awkwardness by saying to him “well this is awkward.” How clever of me. We shared names and high fived because most people aren’t able to win in this game.
You might be wondering what in the HECK were you doing…?! Well friends, let me mention that we were at a summer camp. I have my doubts that many people meet the love of their life amongst 100 yelling and sweaty kids but let me tell you, that’s the scenario in which I met my husband. The game was “rescue the maiden” which is basically capture the flag but with real life people (girls or guys in ridiculous costume dresses).
Let’s rewind a little bit. This was the summer of 2011. I had just finished my freshman year of college at Texas State University and what’s a better college job than to work at a summer camp? I’ll also mention, this was my beloved childhood camp that I went to every summer growing up. Camp Peniel in Marble Falls, TX. Shout out to all my CP folks reading this! I was so pumped to spend the summer counseling, being a light, learning more about myself, and playing outside like a bafoon all day everyday with my campers and fellow counselors but little did I know I would meet the love of my life.
He played it real cool, he laid low, I had no idea he had been eyeing me throughout the summer. You see, he came one week as a volunteer, I remember seeing him and thinking “who’s that handsome fella?” But I didn’t think much further into it because I found out he was 6 years older than me and he just seemed SO much more mature than me at the time (I was only 18.)
Anyway, that handsome fella, Mr. Steven Stelly, just so happened to be the “chief” who rescued me, the maiden, that fateful summer day. To be honest, nothing happened at all after that. We talked here and there, joked a little with each other, I crushed on him a little but like I mentioned earlier, I thought he was WAY too good for me. The summer went on, he kept sticking around camp even though he was only supposed to volunteer for a week.
The last day of camp came and it is always a dreaded day because you have to say goodbye to the people who have basically become your family over the span of two months. I hate goodbyes and I am totally fine dodging them to avoid the awkward “see you later” even though you know you won’t really “see” some people later. I didn’t see Steven that morning before I drove off and to be honest I probably didn’t look for him because as mentioned earlier, not a fan of goodbyes.
That night, I made it home to my parent’s house. I’m unpacking and processing through the whirlwind of an amazing summer when I get a call from an unknown number. I answered it and it was Steven… what the what?? Just calling to offer me an encouraging word. No big deal, seriously? That began the start of texting a lot over the next few weeks. He asked if I wanted to hang out once school started up again (he lived 45 mins away from where I went to school) and of course I said yes. Well this little hang out, I thought it was gonna be super casual, it started sounding more and more like a date. I’ll leave you here- this “hang out” turned into him asking if he could pick me up at 4:45 in the morning to go to a secret location. I was so giddy and excited so I said yes to this crazy request. He picked me up at 4:45am and we drove an hour somewhere in the dark and arrived to a park, still dark, and hiked up a one mile trail, still dark, to an observation deck that overlooked all of San Antonio. He brought us breakfast, we sat down and he told me he planned this so we could watch the sunrise together. Well folks, we laughed and shared stories and really the rest is history! I love our story, I’m so thankful chief Stelly “rescued” me in the woods that fateful day. God writes pretty sweet stories, eh?
*Fun fact, a year and a half later we got engaged at the park where our first date was and then way later got to celebrate Evy’s adoption there! It’s a pretty special place to us.
**another fun fact, Steven was only supposed to help out at camp for a week that summer but he tells me time and time again that he kept sticking around because he saw something in me and didn’t want to leave. OMG. Swoon.