Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seven Years Ago - Our Engagement Story

      Seven years ago, the Red Sox broke the curse and won the World Series.  Normally, I do not keep track of these sporty things, but it was the night John and I got engaged.  I realized that I have never written out the story, and since it is a good one and very important, I want it recorded, some place where we can go back and remember it.  Sadly, it was before I had a digital camera (gasp!), and because it was a surprise to me, I didn't know to have my camera with me, so - no pictures from that night.  We do have great engagement pictures taken by none other than Luke Davis who was just a college friend then - we had no idea he would someday become family by marrying my sister, or that he would end up buying the studio that would shoot our wedding.  Crazy world.  I do love these pictures.


      So, here's the story about how we got to the place where we could take these pictures - engaged.  The plan, as I knew it, was that we were going to meet up with John's youth pastor from high school and his wife.  We lived in NW Arkansas, and they lived in Dallas, which are about 5 hours apart, so we were going to meet up with them in some town about half way between for dinner.  (We did end up actually following through with this plan the next month, so I did get to meet them.)  As we were driving out of town, we were actually headed north-ish.  This is one of the funny parts of this story.  When John had told people of his plan, they usually noted that we would not be driving the right direction.  John was confident that I would not notice.  He was right.  So, we headed north, when we should have been headed south, and I was none the wiser.
      As we were driving, we got to a town called Disney, OK.  Knowing my love of Disney, John thought we should stop for a picture with the sign in Disney.  I was game, and I hopped out, while he supposedly dug for the camera.  There was no camera to be found, so we loaded back into the car, only to find that it was "not working."  What I did not realize is that John was stalling for time and not pushing down the clutch.  I came up with the brilliant solution of "wait a few minutes, and try it again.  surely it will work then."  Since it was all a time-game anyway, he said that sounded like a great plan.  (Do not come to me for car trouble.)
      Since we were in a parking lot by a lake, people were coming in and out.  I eventually wondered aloud if we should ask any of them for help.  He said they all looked sketchy, and since I had apparently left my brain at home that evening, I agreed, and we continued to wait, with a not working car, in a parking lot by Grand Lake.  After about 5 minutes, he suggested that we walk down to the pier, since we were killing time waiting for the car to fix itself.  We walked onto the pier, and a within about a minute, a boat came headed straight for us.  I remember feeling like we should get off the dock, since we were very much in the way, which did not seem to concern super-conscientious John at that moment.  As I looked up at the boat again, I realized I knew the driver, and that was when I knew.  This would be no ordinary night.
      It was one of John's roommates driving the boat, and he ushered us aboard.  We sped across Grand Lake as the sun set, with the wind whipping through our hair.  That really is not embellished for dramatic flair, that is really what happened.  The boat slowed as we neared the shore, and I realized that where we were docking was covered in Christmas lights and the path leading from the dock was lined with candles.  It was gorgeous.
      Because John knew that I would know what was happening at that point, he decided to get straight to the engaging part, which I appreciated.  We went into a candlelit den in a beautiful cabin.  There was a small, but tall, chest there with four drawers - it still lives on my dresser to this day, and I do have a picture of it.


He had me open the top drawer, which had this note inside of it, with pictures underneath it of our time dating.


Then, the next drawer revealed this note.  He explained to me that he knew he was going to have to give up many things to get married, and those were listed on little notes underneath the yellow card.  Basically, he told me all the ways he would need to die to self.


After telling me that he believed he knew clearly what God wanted him to do and all that he would need to give up, he had me open the third drawer, which had this verse inside of it.  Makes me tear up even now as I look at it.  John does a beautiful job of striving to love me as Christ loves the church, and I am so thankful for that.


And, the final drawer held that box.  The one that I knew by this point must have a ring inside.  He removed the box and got down on one knee, told me he loved me and asked me to marry him.  I said, "YES!"  And, he slid the ring that I did not even know he had, the one with the antique diamond from my mother's engagement ring from my father that was once my grandmother's, he slid that ring onto my left hand.  Oh, the joy of that moment.


      The engagement ring was the simple solitaire, and the wrap around it is my wedding band.  He explained that he had driven up to Wichita one Friday when I thought he was working and asked my mother for my hand in marriage.  She had said yes and given him the diamond.  What a precious gift!
      After the thrill of the engagement, we got to explore the rest of the cabin.  Dinner was set for us in the living room, on a candlelit table for two in front of a roaring fire.  Our dear friend, Becci, had prepared it for us, with an amazing cheesecake dessert with raspberry sauce (I should get that recipe!).  We called our families and friends to tell them the news.  We talked about dates, because we had held off on any wedding planning at all until after we were engaged.  We laughed about the surprises the evening had held, and we reveled in the joy of what lay ahead of us.  And after all that, we watched the Red Sox win the World Series.  Not because we are die-hard baseball fans, but because we had watched the whole series, and I genuinely wanted to see who would win.  We had been cheering for the Red Sox, so it was a satisfying conclusion to our evening.  His roommate had brought John's car around to the house, so we were able to drive home without going via lake.
      Getting to the point of engagement was a long road for us.  Not that it took so long, but it contained some unusual hurdles and hiccups, because of the time of life that it was.  Sometimes I wonder what I would have thought if at that moment we had had a glimpse into our future.  If we could have seen what our marriage would bring us, the good and the hard.  I am so thankful to have said yes to John and ultimately to God on that night.  I am so thankful that God writes stories better than the ones we would write for ourselves.  He did for us, and I trust that he will continue to do that.  And, while being married does not make our lives easier, it does make them enormously better.  I would say yes all over again.


Kristin Murdock said...

Yay! I love hearing people's engagement stories! I wrote mine out a month or so after it happened, but this has inspired me to go back and find it, and maybe even share it with others. Thanks Carol!