I met Stephen seven years ago on May 21, 2006.
That January, I had helped my mom and stepdad move from Nebraska to Pennsylvania. I was on Christmas break during my freshman year of college in Chicago, so I flew back to school for the second semester. In May, I returned to Pennsylvania for a month before I went to work at camp for the summer.
I had heard Steve’s name, and I caught wind of how he was well-liked at our new church. I had seen one photo of him when he was in high school. Also,I had met his mom and two of his brothers. But he too was away at college, and May 21st was the first time that our paths collided.
It was a Sunday morning, and my mom and I were sitting together in church. From the left side of the congregation, Steve approached the front microphone. He brought out his guitar, and began singing “In Christ Alone”. Between the powerful lyrics of the song, and his incredible singing voice, I wiped away a couple tears from my eyes. He was so handsome, and I felt an immediate stirring in my heart.
When church was over, I was walking past him to leave the room, and we managed a “hey” and a “hi”.
Later that night, we came back to church for a special “Spring Sing” (think church talent show). Steve was the M.C., and he was really witty on the microphone, introducing the kids and adults for their music performances. At one point, I remember distinctly that an older woman in the church, Doris, (a true saint of the church) told the story of how she met her husband, Ray. She was sixteen years-old, and she was a soloist at her church in Michigan. As she was up on the stage singing, she noticed a man in army uniform walk in late. She said that she almost stopped singing. They continued making eye contact through her song. And when she sat down with her mother in the pew, she whispered, “My husband just walked in the door.” Doris and Ray were married for 62 years before he passed away. I looked across the room to Steve. Somehow I felt the same scenario had just happened to me.
After the show, everyone went downstairs to the fellowship hall for dessert. I sat down with my mom, my friend Meghan, and Meghan’s mom. And a surprise to me, Steve sat down right across the table from me. He was definitely extroverted and enthusiastic. He introduced himself, and he learned a little bit about me. And what sticks out the most from that first conversation—he drew me a map on the paper tablecloth. Since I was new in town, he wanted to show me all of the hot spots. I’m sure I had the hugest smile on my face. He told me the best place to eat in town was Sheetz (gas station/convenience store), and he even proceeded to tell me the best way to make a slushie there. I was floored by his kindness, his energy, and his green eyes.
Steve and I saw each other at church a couple more times that month, and we had a memorable game of frisbee golf on Memorial Day. I left for camp in mid-June. He had worked at the same camp in previous summers, but chose not to counsel there in the summer of 2006. He however did volunteer at camp for 2 weeks—one week in June, and one in July. I continued to have the biggest crush of my life. Camp is a story for another day. 2006 did not end up being our summer. The spark had been lit, but we would wait until July 2007 for a relationship to begin :)