May 22 our anniversary is around the corner, so of course, our engagement, wedding day, and beautiful marriage have been much on my mind. I’ll admit, it’s been a really tough couple weeks. But of course God keeps meeting with me grace. I’m beginning to see God’s grace in the smallest things. So, as I “prepare” my heart for Wednesday, today’s grace reminded me that I can be confident God will give astonishing grace on what would have been our 3rd anniversary, specific grace right when it’s needed. Grace moment by moment. That’s what He offers. So, since I’m thinking these things, I thought I’d share our engagement story with you. I think I promised I would. So, here is the story I wrote the day after Jon proposed. I’ll leave it in its original form. Well, with a few parenthetical notes perhaps.
So here are the details surrounding Jon’s wonderfully planned out, thoroughly romantic proposal. And I promise I won’t be offended if you don’t make it to the end.—Just warning you now, this is the “long version” that the ladies love to hear (and to tell).
Well, Jon knew I love surprises, but also love trying to figure them out. So he started planning his proposal about a month before the actual event. It all started with a series of, shall we say “self-justified falsehoods.” One of his close friends (Chris Lynch, I think) told him that this was the only time in life that it was ok to lie, and I guess he ran with it. First, he told me that he hadn’t talked to my parents yet and wanted to talk to them in person. He furthermore informed me that he wasn’t able to meet with the “ring guy” until February (which, coincidentally was true, but the February appointment was for wedding bands. We got our rings from an independent gemologist who lives in New Hampshire-Doesn’t that sound fancy? And though Jon thoroughly researched his purchase, he never saw the engagement ring in person till it came in the mail. Crazy huh?).
At first, being the over analyst I typically am, I just thought he was being sneaky. However, as he maintained his ruse, he finally had me convinced that the ring wasn’t coming until February at the earliest. At one point I asked my mom if Jon had called recently. When she said no, I officially believed that Jon was just being compassionate and helping me not to get my hopes up. She didn’t sound sneaky at all.
Also, he actually said “Babe, I just don’t want you to get your hopes up that you’ll have a ring to show off when you go home to Virginia at the end of the month. I really wish it was possible, but it just isn’t.” I admit that I was worried because we had already set our May 22nd wedding date. I was nervous that we’d be giving folks such short notice. Actually, I had to spend much time in prayer asking God to help me be content and patient. Jon had me right where he wanted me.
Fast-forward to January 16th. We both had had busy, stressful weeks, and he told me that we were going to have a stress-free, no talking about work,, date on Saturday night. And we were also going to celebrate him paying off college debt. Hooray! When Jon picked me up, he gave me three small gifts in the car. The first was a book of “Kiss Me” coupons (to be redeemed after 5-22-10 written on the front). I just laughed. Next, was a children’s book called Guess How Much I Love You, which is quite possibly my absolute favorite picture book. A high honor, of course. (My current students would tell you, ‘She says they’re all her favorites’) Anyone who knows me well also knows that I’m kind of a children’s literature fanatic).
But there’s another significant aspect about this book. When Jon and I first started dating we were in Barnes and Noble in my favorite section. When I saw Guess How Much I Love You, I made him sit in the little chairs while I read it to him. I know, super silly, but it was sort of a test at the time. By the way, he wasn’t embarrassed at all to be sitting in the tiny chairs reading a picture book with me. He passed the test. (This would become one of our favorite things, and a necessity every time we went in B&N) Anyway, I digress. Back to the gifts. The third gift was a coffee mug with scenes from Guess How Much I Love You. I adore it! In the mug were red and blue m&ms. “Why?” you ask. Because I always tell him “I love you 1000 red m&ms” and he’ll tell me “I love you 1000 blue m&ms. (Ok all the men can stop gagging now) Sappy, I know. But very special to us. At this point I still didn’t suspect he was up to something because he had given me little gifts before for no reason.
On the way to the restaurant, we stopped at Walmart to buy an umbrella because it was raining and, of course, neither of us owned one. As we walked in he told me that he must have eaten something bad because his stomach was bothering him. He immediately went to the restroom while I was looking at umbrellas. Later, I found out that the bathroom ploy was all part of the ruse. Yep, I’m sure he’s losing some romance points right about now, but don’t worry. So, I got the umbrella and waited for his “stomach issues” to subside.
Once we were back in the car he told me we were going to play a little game. “It’s the guess how much I love you game,” he said. “Guess how much I love you?” “How much?” was my coy response. “I love you like a 355 lb man loves a chili cheese dog.” And after I stopped laughing, he said “I’ve been thinking about these all day.” And he proceeded to entertain me with other silly statements of his extravagant love for me (which by the way is truly extravagant). So, here I was thoroughly relaxed and enjoying myself, with no thought of engagement. Again, right where he wanted me.
Finally, we made it to the restaurant. As we pulled into the lot, I exclaimed totally shocked, “We’re going here!! I’m so excited!” And if you’d like to know, the restaurant was Devereaux’s a very very very (did I say very) nice fine-dining restaurant in downtown Greenville. Naturally, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go, but don’t think I ever mentioned. I was also kind of giddy that we received complimentary valet parking. I had never experienced valet parking before! Right about now I was feeling a little like a “tourist.” Anyway, Devereaux’s in an historic building, and the atmosphere is incredible. I was so enamored.
After telling the hostess that we had reservations, he immediately asked for the restroom. “Poor guy, his stomach really is bothering him.” The hostess seated me, however, and as we walked toward the table, I noticed that the centerpiece was a dozen red roses. My honest first thought was “Wow, this IS a really nice restaurant to put a dozen red roses on everyone’s table.” Then I sat down. As I looked out across the building, I realized that no one else had roses! They were mine! Ok, I’ll admit that I was getting suspicious at this point, but I determined just to enjoy the evening.
When Jon came back, my first comment was “Are those for me?” And he went on to tell me that he had just wanted to be creative in how he gave me flowers this time. We had a wonderful dinner. The food was so pretty that I wanted to take pictures of it! I didn’t, but I wanted to be such a tourist. (Funny to note is that we later took pictures of our food on our honeymoon, special dates, birthdays, anniversaries… very quirky I think) It was all so wonderfully elegant, and the wait staff attentive. After dessert was served Jon went again to the restroom. “My poor man.”
While I waited for him, I just sat there enjoying my roses thinking “Ok, I think he’ll propose tonight, but it’s definitely not going to be in the restaurant. He wouldn’t do that to me. Hmm…. I wonder if there really are 12 roses in that vase…” So I started counting them. And right about then I heard Jon say my name. When I turned to the side, there he was with another single red rose, and nervous was written all over his face. Then with a rush of emotions, I realized that this was it! I was in shock. In a happy way. He knelt down and said “There are actually only 11 roses in the vase, and you need the 12th one to make it complete. Ami, guess how much I love you?” “How much?” “I love you forever and want you to always be mine.” Everything at this point went hazy, and he had to tell me again later what he said. He also told me later that he had had a big speech prepared, but couldn’t get it out in the moment
And all of sudden, there he was down on one knee, opening a box, taking out a ring (which I didn’t even see because I just kept looking at him) “Ami Beth Walker, will you marry me?” And holding back the tears, I responded with a quiet “yes,” and then an overwhelmed, excited YES!” He put the ring on, and then stood up to kiss me. Then, immediately he announced in a loud voice “Attention everyone, I just wanted to tell you that I just asked this beautiful girl to marry me and she said yes! And I wanted you to share in our excitement.” The entire restaurant broke into applause and cheering! Right on cue, the hostess brought over two fruity drinks. Everything was just perfect. If you would have asked me if I wanted an entire restaurant to watch us get engaged I would have said a big fat no, but in the end it was so delightful to know that my man was willing to “shout from the roof top” how much he loves me. I am incredibly blessed. In the restaurant I was conscious that “I’m in a nice restaurant. I can’t scream” so I did these little silent screams. But when we got outside, it all came out. And Jon said, “Now that was the reaction I was expecting!”
Jon told me later that when he went back to the restroom another man came in and said “Dude you got to lay off the roses. My wife is getting jealous.” Too funny. When Jon told him that he was going to propose, the man gave Jon a $25 gift card in congratulations! He also told me that announcing to the entire restaurant was spontaneous. Also, the surprises didn’t end in the restaurant. After we got outside, he couldn’t stop hugging me and looking at my hand. And neither of us could stop smiling. We started calling our families, and I said earlier, it was raining, so Jon suggested that we just go back to his house and make calls there. Well, you might have guessed it.– There was a surprise party of about 20 of our friends waiting to congratulate us! Every detail of the evening was planned, down to having our friends park in a different location so I wouldn’t see their cars. He knew that I love trying to figure out surprises, and that I love it even more when I can’t.
So that’s our romantic engagement story. I praise God for all that He has done to bring Jon and I together. We are recipients of His extravagant love and grace. He is amazing. I am so thankful to have been given the best. We desire that our future marriage bring Him honor and glory, and that it would be a reflection of Christ and His bride. Thank you all so much for sharing our joy with us!! Our wedding date is 5.22.10.
And even now as I recall that beautiful night, I know I am still blessed, in the true sense of the word.. And these memories make me smile. I know I was given a man far better than I could have hoped. I know I am still a recipient of God’s extravagant love and grace. And the gospel in this story? Well, that’s easy! Jon pursued me and didn’t quit. Jesus pursued me and still doesn’t quit. Jon sacrificed and gave me a gorgeous ring as the symbol of his love, and another ring later as a symbol of his marriage covenant with me. Jesus gave me His life.
It’s a crazy thing to think about celebrating an anniversary with your husband in Heaven. But God is faithful. And He keeps bringing to mind this verse “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…” (Lamentations 3)