As regular readers already know, I met my husband at the BSU at Memphis State University (now The University of Memphis). He was a senior; I was a freshman.
After a year of being friends and starting to fall in love, he graduated, and we spent a year apart waiting for a time that we could be together again- the beginning of an on-going theme for us.
When he returned to MSU to begin work on his master's degree a year later, I was thrilled to have my best friend back on campus, and we spent the year hanging out at the BSU again. By the end of that year, my junior year, I knew he was the man for me.
I hoped he would propose on my birthday in April. He had asked one of my best friends to go shopping with him to help pick out my gift...at a jewelry store. I just knew he had asked her to help pick out a ring.
But I didn't receive a diamond ring. To my disappointment, he gave me a jewelry box. It was nice, but I wanted a ring to put in it. Alas, I would have to continue to wait, knowing that I wasn't really waiting for him but on the Lord.
At the end of that school year, he left for Costa Rica for a month of intensive Spanish instruction/immersion. He called me weekly and told me that being away from me was the most grueling experience of his life. He never wanted to be without me again. Finally, I thought, he'll step off the plane and bend down on one knee.
But he didn't, and the waiting continued.
A month later, we attended a wedding together. While talking with the male members of the wedding party, they asked him when they would get to attend his wedding. He admitted that he had wanted to propose for months but had not thought of the "perfect" way to ask yet. Their response was something like, "Dude! Just ask her!!"
On the way home from the wedding, he told me what the guys had said in a way that let me know he was testing the waters. So I told him that if he were to ask me, I would say yes. I just knew that would open the door for him and he would ask me while we were driving back to campus. I envisioned him pulling the car over, taking my hand, and asking me the question I longed to hear on the side of I-40.
But still... no proposal.
A month later, he talked to my father who gave his consent. Then he came to me and told me that he was going to propose soon, but not without a ring. He wanted me to go to a jeweler with him and point out what kind of ring I liked. I wanted to say, "Any ring will do... JUST ASK ME!"
But I didn't. I knew that wouldn't be proper or kind or submissive, so I went shopping with him. Once we found the ring, I hoped he would drop to one knee and ask me right there in the store. But, you guessed it....
About a month after that, there had still been no proposal. I was about to give up on it ever happening when it was time for our annual church picnic at a local Christian campground. There were hot air balloon rides scheduled for the day, and Michael went on and on the entire week before about how fun that would be and how much he wanted to go ballooning with me.
However, on the day of the picnic, I woke up with a cold. It was in my ears, and I was terribly dizzy. I called Michael and told him I couldn't make the picnic. He insisted I reconsider, reminding me of the hot air balloon and the fun we would have.
I insisted that I would topple over the basket and fall to my death should I try to ride in my dizzy condition but I would do my best to be there for his sake.
With a fever of 101 and enough cold medicine in me to give me the shakes, I managed to swipe a little foundation, powder, and blush over my flush, sweaty face. I dared not try lipstick or eye shadow. My hands were so unsteady that it would have ended up all over my face.
Pleasant fall temperatures had set in, but I was chilling and then sweating and then chilling again, so I threw on a pair of jeans with a t-shirt and hoodie. I drove very slowly and had to switch back and forth between air conditioning and heat. I had to pull over at least four times to remove or put back on my hoodie. Eventually, I made it to Camp Cordova just as the balloon was landing for the last time of the day.
I approached a downtrodden Michael and noticed people were consoling him. I could not figure out why the hot air balloon ride was so important to him but I apologized for missing it and explained that I had done my best to get there as quickly as possible. He could see I didn't feel well and understood, and we tried our best to enjoy the picnic and concert that followed.
At some point, my fever broke, and I regained some energy. We headed out to the Frisbee golf course where we laughed at my inability to throw in a straight line. He ran off to retrieve my misguided Frisbee and then disappeared.
As I bounced from tree to tree, looking for my love and not giving engagement rings or proposals the slightest thought, I found him behind a tree trunk on one knee with an open ring case in hand.
I quickly realized why he had wanted me on that hot air balloon so badly. He had finally found the perfect way to propose, and I had ruined it. I was touched by his kindness and told him that anywhere was the perfect spot. I didn't want a spectacular event or a fancy ring. I wanted him, his love and commitment, and as long as we could be together, any old spot would do.
Although I think it came out a little more like this-
It was sixteen years ago today that I played a rather poor game of Frisbee golf and came out the winner of an engagement ring. I still love that young man who was hiding behind a tree with ring in hand and I remember him fondly. I like who he has grown up to be, too. I could not have asked for anything nicer than the sweet moment God appointed and am thankful that it is His timing that is perfect.
I wait for the Lord,
my soul doth wait,
and in his word do I hope.