Madison and Nick

How We Met

Nick and I met through some mutual friends during my second semester of my freshman year of college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I was 19 and he was 23. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that we ran into each other at a friend’s party, got to know each other, and salsa danced the night away, that I realized how compatible we were. We decided to go out for ice cream, and the rest is history. I knew right away that Nick brought out the best in me like no one had before. I was free to completely and totally be myself around him, and I knew that he felt the same way.

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Months after our fist date, he admitted to me that I had gotten ice cream in my long hair and never noticed the whole time we were talking (so embarrassing, I know), but he was just too nice to say anything. Don’t worry, we’re now at a place where neither of us would hesitate to embarrass each other in a similar situation. It wasn’t long after we started dating that it was time for me to go back to Texas for the summer. I have to admit that there was a part of me that was afraid that he, a 24 year old college graduated guy, would lose interest in me, a girl barely out of her freshman year of college who had no clue what she wanted to do with her life, and that now lived almost 6 hours away from him. I’m happy to say that that summer brought us closer than ever.

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He arranged his work schedule so that he could make oh so many trips back and forth to Dallas. To say that I was excited to get back up to Fayetteville for my Sophomore year would be an understatement. Since the beginning of our relationship, we have both grown up and found ourselves in ways that we never thought we would. We’ve learned from each other through our age difference and through our being at different “stages” of our lives (I’d like to think that I keep him young, but he’s the one who loves cartoons and toy stores). Entering into my Freshman year of college, I thought that the world revolved around me.

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I sincerely believe that God used Nick as the vessel to teach me that I was meant to live to for things bigger than myself. Being with Nick has taught me about the selfless and unconditional love that we were designed to experience. Mine and Nick’s relationship has not only taught us both so many things about ourselves and about each other, but it has painted for us a tangible picture of the way that the Lord loves us. Nick and I can mutually agree that we saved each other, and I thank God that he set our paths to cross at the most unexpected times in our lives. Nick is my best friend. We continue to challenge each other, push each other, encourage each other, and bring out the best in each other. We are so thrilled to be entering in to this new chapter of our lives together.

How He Asked

One of our favorite things to do in our free time is to take advantage of the gorgeous nature around Arkansas (If you’ve never explored along the Buffalo River you are seriously missing out). We’ve gone on countless hikes around the Ozark Mountains, but our favorite place to be is at the waterfall on Nick’s uncle’s ranch in Crosses, Arkansas. The first time we visited there was during our summer apart. I was visiting Fayetteville one weekend, and we went to Crosses with Nick’s dad to explore and look at the waterfall. We got a good picture and spent some time there, and it became one of our most memorable spots that we had visited. Fast forward one year. I was in Fayetteville taking classes for nursing school. During my few and far between breaks, we would still try to hike when the weather was nice.

We had gone out a couple of times with Nick’s friend Justin, who also happens to be an incredible photographer. It wasn’t uncommon for Justin to take pictures of everything, including the two of us, when we were out in nature. One day, Nick told me that Justin had been commissioned to do a shoot for a magazine about exploring Arkansas, and had asked us to be his “models” for this mountain-themed shoot. Since I knew that Justin’s work was always incredible, I didn’t question it at all. Nick told me that he thought that we could take great pictures next to “our” waterfall, so the next Sunday, two days before I turned 21, we got dressed up and headed to Crosses with Justin for our “magazine shoot”. Since getting there is tricky, we followed Nick’s dad through the land on the ranch to spot where we could access the water. I rode with his dad in his truck, while he and Justin followed behind.

We had normal, casual conversation the whole 45 minute drive, and I never once thought that I would be getting proposed to that evening. We were set up at the waterfall taking pictures when I told Nick that he had started acting like a weirdo. We were standing up holding hands, posed for Justin’s photos, and Nick had started swaying side to side, repeatedly kissing me on the forehead, and giggling. Having talked about getting engaged quite a bit, I joked, “You’re acting like you’re about to propose or something!”. He smiled at me and told me to check inside of our picnic basket prop. In all honesty, I thought that he was messing with me, but I checked anyways. I was so surprised when I opened up the basket to see a little blue ring box. My heart had stopped at this point. Nick reached down and grabbed it, got down on one knee, and opened it up. I had my hands over my mouth in shock/because I was ugly crying. He grabbed my left hand saying “I need this” and asked me to marry him.

He was so nervous that he had to ask me which finger was my ring finger before he put it on my hand. Justin was there to capture not only photos of us being candid at one of our favorite spots, but also the most amazing day of my entire life. Looking back, I can’t believe how gullible I was to not realize what was happening. I was 110% surprised/shocked/over the moon excited. Afterwards, we headed to Nick’s parents house where they, along with his older sister had planned an engagement party for us.

All of my family and our closest friends were there waiting there for us to get back. This meant so much to me because we were able to share the most important night of our lives with the people that we love. Nick and I are getting married in June of 2018, and we can’t wait for that day to be here. That being said, it is so important to us that we enjoy this season of engagement. We’ve already been engaged for a week and a half and it would be an understatement for me to tell you that it has flown by. I feel so blessed to be engaged to the man who I also call my best friend. We are so excited to enter into marriage to gather, and we are so looking forward to seeing what our future holds!

Special Thanks

Justin Smith