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Friday, September 5, 2014

When it rains . . . men propose :)

Six years ago this week, my husband proposed. This is our story (with hardly any artistic license taken at all. Like less than 5% ;) )

            Summer had begun to fade into autumn as Labor Day slipped by. I had just started my Junior year of school. And there was this boy. I’d written to him all summer.
He’d made eyes at me for the last two years before that. He’d practically stalked me. Always sitting at my table in the cafeteria, stopping by my study table to chat—for hours. Watching me with binoculars from the tree he climbed. (Yes, this did happen.)
I’d been avoiding him for the last two years, studiously avoiding him—a difficult feat on a campus of 300 students. I’d walk an extra quarter mile on the sidewalk just to avoid crossing paths with him.
He hadn’t got the message. At all. In fact, I think my steady rejections encouraged him.
These last few months had been different though. I’d never realized what a fascinating conversationalist he was. And he had the most handsome dark hair and brown eyes. Too bad the military made him cut the hair all off this summer. My first act as his girlfriend was going to have been to touch that hair.
Yes, girlfriend. I’d decided I was going to finally encourage him. If rejecting him for two years had made him practically stalk me, encouraging him would certainly secure me a date in a matter of weeks.
I wasn’t wrong. I was sitting at an abandoned cafeteria table, school papers spread out. He walked in and pulled up a chair beside me.
So this was it. Finally! He was at least four weeks behind schedule.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Ok.” I was blushing.
“Ever since I first saw you in 8 am logic class the first day of Freshman year, I’ve been in love with you. I thought you looked like a fairy tale princess that day.” He went on for probably twenty minutes saying all the things he loved, adored, and worshipped about me. He’d even renamed a praise song after me, Beautiful One by Jeremy Camp: Beautiful one I love, beautiful one I adore, beautiful one my heart must sing.
How romantic! Tears almost came to my eyes.
 “Will you be in a serious relationship with me?” he asked.
He must be so nervous. And so unsure about my answer. After all, I’d rejected him for two years. How brave of him to even approach a girl he practically worshipped.
I smiled at him. I told him I liked him. In a few days, the relationship was cemented into official boyfriend, girlfriend.
A week later, I told him how happy I was to be with him. That I loved him too.
“I knew you’d say yes. God told me you were going to marry me,” he said.
My jaw dropped. So much for worrying about his nervousness when he declared his feelings. He’d probably never felt nervous in his life!
A year went by. We went to dances, spent hours talking about our hopes and dreams, competed in Ultimate Frisbee, and started food fights in the cafeteria. Yeah, we were that couple. One couple friend told us that they prayed for us daily. I think they saw our attention-seeking behavior as a lack of maturity. What? Shakespeare wrote great English literature and he said, “all life’s a stage.”
But now the crisp autumn scents of apples, cinnamon, and pumpkins had come back around for our Senior year. The college stage was quickly slipping away. And my boyfriend had yet to propose.
This was becoming an issue. How do you have happily ever after without a ring? I dropped hints. I chafed. I dropped more hints. A full five months had slipped by since I first started making subtle suggestions. It was time to take life by the fetlocks.
“Do you see us going our separate ways after graduation,” I asked my boyfriend. “You go to Army school, me move back to Maryland, get a teaching job?”
“What? No!”
“Maybe you should think about proposing then. It takes a year to plan a wedding.” My hands sweated as I said it. But seriously, why should women let men control the narrative? I was just as much a part of this relationship as my guy.
He bristled. “I couldn’t possibly propose to you. You have a lot of flaws. I don’t know if I even want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
My eyes narrowed. A ridiculous excuse. He’d been dying to spend the rest of his life with me ever since he first set eyes upon me in logic class. “If you say so, honey.”
Where would he plan the proposal? A romantic Italian restaurant. The waiters could break into song as he got down on one knee.
There’s something particularly romantic about the Italians, but I wasn’t picky. We were both broke college students, so date night usually involved long walks in the park. There was only one place I knew I didn’t want to be proposed to at. In the rain, outdoors, like Darcy and Lizzy Bennet. Books say that rain is romantic, but actually it’s cold and depressing. Cloudy days are gross too. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I made chlorophyll like a plant—I need sunshine to survive.
A week passed. “Want to go for a drive,” my boyfriend asked.
This was it; I could feel it. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that my mom had called me the day before and told me that my boyfriend had called my dad and asked for his permission to marry me.)
Rain clouds gathered over head. My boyfriend pointed to a worn trail. It was a long one. We walked up, and up, and up. It was going to rain any second and still we climbed.
At last, we reached the clearing on top.
He dropped to one knee.
Even though I’d been expecting it, I jumped. I should have brought my camera. This was going to me a memory I’d keep with me all my life.
He pointed to a clump of rocks. The words “marry me” were spelled out in pebbles. Not “will you marry me?” not “I wish you would marry me?” not “you’d make me the happiest of men.”
Even on his knees, he was smiling, confident. He hadn’t doubted if he wanted to marry me! He hadn’t even doubted if I wanted to marry him. Everything was unfolding just like his predetermined plan where he said I had to marry him because God told him so.
Well, I so didn’t have to marry him. I didn’t! And he should at least have the grace to sweat a little over my choice.
“Will you marry me?” That confident voice again.
I crossed my arms. “We need to talk first. For example, why would I want to have your bratty kids?”
His face was priceless, really priceless. And then it started to pour.
“I hate getting wet!” I pulled my insufficient tanktop closer around my body.
“It’s supposed to be romantic.” My boyfriend was up off his knees now.
“Lies. All lies from trumped up romance novels. Rain is cold, not romantic.”
“Would you like to see the ring anyway?” he held the ring box forward.
“No!” Only mercenary girls look at the ring before they’ve decided to say yes. As if the quality of a ring would determine one’s choice. How unliberated!
I chewed my lip. “How many of your bratty kids do you want me to have anyway?”
I nodded slowly. “Five sounds good. Much smaller than ten, the number I used to want.”
“We’re very compatible,” he said.
“We really are.” I took his hand. “All right I’ll marry you. I hope you know how lucky you are though.”
He smiled and kissed me.
“Were you nervous I’d say 'no'?”
“Naw. You were just dragging it out. You might be able to resist God’s will for a few minutes, but not much longer than that.”
Ok, he didn’t say that, his eyes did.
I shrugged. There were worse things in life than confident men. “May I have my ring now, please?”

It really was gorgeous. And he had asked a friend to place two big bouquets of flowers in my dorm room while we were gone too.
 Now I just had to figure out a way to plan a wedding and still earn the valedictorian award. Could I pull it off? Probably not. Oh well, one does need to make some sacrifices for love.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Proposal Week: Post 2

     The air was crisp as my then boyfriend (now husband) climbed the mountain. Rocks lined the path. His hand touched the ringbox in his coat pocket. A miners' cut diamond from his great grandmother reset now in white gold. I'd never seen the ring, didn't even know it existed.
        Was he nervous if I'd like it? More importantly, worried if I'd say yes?
       Naw. He picked up his pace to the top of the mountain. Of course she'd say yes. He was, after all, a really good catch.

       During this week, six years ago, my husband proposed. In honor of that, I'm designating this week proposal week on my blog. I'll be sharing some proposal stories from other authors and then finishing off with my story.

Next up, Karen Wingate.


From across the seminary library, I heard this articulate, confident bass voice.  I had a thing about deep bass voices and this voice sounded like one I wanted to hear more of.

“Who is that talking?” I poked one of my roommates sitting next to me.

“Oh, that’s Jack Wingate, the library media director,” she told me.

As I went through the course of my days: classes, chapel services, and study sessions, I kept listening for that voice.  Finally, I came face to face with the man behind the voice at a Christmas party held in one of the professors’ homes.  We spent a lovely twenty minutes standing in front of the fireplace, exchanging casual chit-chat. I know.  How romantic! I definitely wanted to know more about this man.

So when I returned to campus for my second semester of graduate school, I started to park my stack of books at a cubical near his open office door. As one of the few female seminary students, I got quite a reputation as a diligent student.  If they only knew the truth. Everyone but one certain person noticed me in that tucked away study carrousel.  It took three months before Jack finally noticed me and asked if I’d like to go get lunch with him at the school cafeteria.  My roommates say I stuck my foot out in the aisle to trip him.  Not true, but I had to invite him to a music concert at my church to finally wrangle a date out of him!

We were talking to each other more by the time I left for a three month mission internship. I feared my absence would snuff out our budding relationship. But over that summer both of us thought a lot about the person we had come to know.  I came home so conflicted.  I wanted to be involved in mission work but the man with the deep voice wanted to teach or preach.  Foreign missions was not part of his make-up, he told me. 

After a lot of soul searching about my motives for wanting to be on the mission field, I told him one night, “I’m not so convinced any more that God wants me on the foreign mission field. Perhaps I can serve Him in the States just as well.”

“Oh?” He stopped what he was doing.  “I think we have a lot to talk about.” 

I had to rush off to an evening class right then, but I don’t think I heard a word of the professor’s lecture.  Three hours later after talking about goals and dreams and life paths, we narrowed it down to one question – would we serve God better together or apart?  It was 12:15 in the morning. 

We fell silent, then Jack asked, “So, do you want to get married?”

“Well,” I tried not to sound too excited.  “Yeah.”

Three days later, I realized what a catch I’d made.  We went shopping for rings and as I peered at the broad variety of diamond solitaires, Jack stopped me.  “Since you have trouble seeing, I want you to have a ring you will be able to see.  How about this ring with alternating rubies and diamonds.  You would be able to see that better, wouldn’t you?”

How perceptive! How sensitive!  I knew Jack was the man for me.

P.S.  How much of an introvert is my guy?  He had not even told his parents he was dating me until after we had become engaged!

Jack and Karen Wingate will celebrate their 30th anniversary next June.  They live with their Welsh Corgi in Western Illinois and wish their two adult daughters had not grown up so fast. Karen spent twenty-five years writing Christian education curriculum that made its way into several countries beyond the United States borders.  She and Jack have served in ministry in six different states.  Their current ministries is involved in supporting a college ministry with an outreach to international students for whom Karen often bakes homemade cookies.  Karen now divides her time between writing historical fiction and teaching women’s bible studies.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Proposal Week

        The sky was blue, the grass was green, the air had the scent of autumn . . . and my husband had a ring box in his pocket.

        During this week, six years ago, my husband proposed. In honor of that, I'm designating this week proposal week on my blog. I'll be sharing some proposal stories from other writers and then finishing off with my story.

First up is author Jennifer Hallmark who celebrated 32 years of marriage this year.

         We met in August, a blind date set up by Danny’s cousin, Robert and his future wife, Ann. The four of us rode around in nearby Bankhead Forest, then went for ice cream.

          Fast forward to January 9th. Danny had been nervous and absent­minded the entire evening. What was wrong? We now sat in his car in my parent’s driveway, exchanging good night kisses.

                We sat in silence for a few moments, then he said, “Why don’t we get married?”

               I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so I answered, “Okay.” Two weeks later, he purchased an engagement ring and it was official.
             Afterward he told me that after that first date, he told his cousin, “that one day he would marry me.”

         Jennifer Hallmark is a writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.
       Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.