"So many years I have prayed for the fulfillment of all the Lord started in us so many years ago... and now I have these precious portraits to look at all the Lord has done. They seriously remind me of the stones of remembrance that the Israelites would set up to remember all Yahweh had done. This is what these photos are to me."
This message is simply beautiful, and such a sweet representation of Annalise's heart. Annalise and Steven are one of a kind. When I say one of a kind, I mean it. I truly have never met anyone like them. Annalise and Steven are overflowing with the fruit and the love of the Holy Spirit in such a distinct, tangible way.
Steven and Ben are dear friends, which prompted Annalise and I to build a friendship over the phone, as she lives in Tennessee. We shared FaceTime conversations, phone calls, and heartfelt texts over the course of the past year. We built a beautiful, deep, and intentional friendship without even meeting in person. It was truly a gift from the Lord.
Throughout the later weeks of summer, Steven was in touch with Ben and I because he was planning a surprise trip to Vero Beach, and during that trip, he had plans to propose to his dearest Annalise. I received the sweetest texts from Annalise talking about how Steven is planning a "suspicious" trip to Florida and that we would finally be able to meet each other in person. There were so many fulfillments of God's miracles in motion.
Before we knew it, they were here in town. Being able to meet Annalise in person and spend time with her every moment we could felt too good to be true. I kept asking the Lord, "Is this for real?" or "Is this a dream?" Sure enough, it was real and it was so special because it was the initiative of Jesus, furthering both our edification and our delight. Together, we got to watch sea turtles nest, drink good coffee, go thrifting, walk the local farms, swim in the ocean, go on double dates, eat ice cream, and so much more. I always tell Ben that when Steven is around, Ben is glowing with joy. They both are such a huge blessing to us, both as couples and as individuals. They inspire us to chase after Jesus more and more.
Steven was so intentional with their proposal. He made plans to propose at South Beach, one of Vero's most beautiful beaches. He found a spot he loved, and scattered fifty-two sunflowers to represent fifty-two months they have shared together. In the bushes were Ben and I with our cameras, another sweet couple with their newborn, and Annalise's family to her surprise. They flew in from Tennessee to be a part of the moment. It was simply perfect, Holy, and so precious. It was an honor to witness.
The next day, the four of us spent the day together. After church, the beloved Salvi coffee, a car breakdown, a new pickup truck, and lunch, we went to Riverside park and began the engagement session. Steven and Annalise's vision for their engagement portraits consisted of shooting near Spanish moss (Riverside Park), and shooting at the place where Steven proposed (South Beach). Their vision was lovely. While we were running from rain throughout the session, the Lord was gracious to our delight. He spared us from the rain, and He gave us beautiful, soft light to work with.
As I am writing this, Steven and Annalise are headed back to their home states. It feels so bittersweet, but Ben and I are so thankful for the time we had together. We will remember it forever, and will be eternally grateful for these relationships. We are so beyond excited for their wedding next summer. In the meantime, I am tempted to catch the next flight to Tennessee - haha.
Steven and Annalise, thank you for letting us be a part of y'all's journey, for loving so well, and for being such faithful friends. You both are immense blessings! Here's to a beautiful new season, and a beautiful marriage that will impact the Kingdom of God in mighty ways, forever.
01. Riverside Park
02. South Beach