October 2009. As an insecure, trying-to-find-my-place-in-this-world freshman, I tagged along to a house I had never been at to participate in the birthday party surprise for a girl I hardly knew, thinking, “This will be great… Wait, this is scary, I hardly know ANYONE at the party!… Buuuut I’ve met the birthday girl a few times and she seems nice… But I don’t think I’ll ever be her friend because she’s just SO COOL! Aaaa, I should leave… Oh no, too late now, she’s coming!” I remember that surprise party so vividly. There were dozens of people there to celebrate a freshman babe by the name of Tara Thompson. The Christian community at CNU has always been incredible, and especially my freshman year, the upperclassmen went out of their way to make us feel welcome and included in life at CNU. So in the midst of this birthday party, I remember looking around at the people gathered to celebrate Tara and thinking, “I want to be part of this community. And I want to know this girl that SO many people would come surprise and celebrate as a freshman on her birthday. She’s just so cool………..”
Who would have thought that night at the start of our freshman year that Tara Thompson would end up being one of my very best friends………. and that I would be doing an engagement shoot of her and her FIANCÉ just a few years later!?!
Tara’s one of those people who’s beauty on the outside is just a smidgen of the beauty that’s inside her. Her heart is unlike any other I know. She loves genuinely, she loves faithfully, she loves honestly, she loves bluntly, she loves encouragingly. When Tara cares for people, she gives 100%. She isn’t wishy-washy or half in. I remember a time during sophomore or junior year when one of the downtown guys from the DownTown Ministry Tara leads at CNU was in a serious car accident. Tara threw herself into praying and caring for this dear friend. She was steadfast in hospital visits and figuring out how to best serve him, and she constantly was reminding me to pray for him. Tara also loves openly and candidly. I can’t tell you how many times she has straight-up rebuked lies I was believing or spoken Truth to me in love, encouraging me away from frustration and disappointment (she makes it very difficult for me to keep hurt inside, the stinker….. she ALWAYS knows when something is wrong). Aaaaand she can also make me laugh. Like none other. She’s made me pee in my pants from laughing (maybe more than once). She’s a super goof ball (just ask her what she knows about armed robbery or how good she is at kitchen spatula singing to Grease‘s “You’re the One that I Want). I always wish we could have more time together when we hangout.
And now my darling Tara is getting MARRIED! Had you told either of us freshman year that Matt Hayes was gonna be her husband, we would have laughed and said, “Yeahhhhhhh… what?” Let’s just say, the dorky, handsome boy Matt from our early CNU years has become dorky, handsome man Matt. And MAN, is he perfect for my Tara. Matt is one of the most humble & gentle yet strong & leader guys that I know. He serves and loves Tara with such selflessness, putting her before himself and setting such an amazing example of Christ in their relationship. I remember this one time semi-early on in their relationship when Tara was digging into some theology and praying about what she believed about a certain doctrine. Matt took time by himself and with her to find biblical, sound teaching and wisdom on this doctrine and talk and work through hard questions with Tara. That’s just a tiny example of how he goes above and beyond to look to others’ interests and serve them before himself. I could not think of a better man for Tara. He calms her down, leads her so well, has this hilarious quiet humor, and puts His relationship with Christ as a priority over all else. I’m so excited to see what the Lord has for their marriage and how they will continue to serve Him as Mr. & Mrs. Hayes!
I love you two so so much, and am so grateful you let me take these photos. Thanks for letting me be part of your lives!!