Thursday, March 3, 2011

PART TWO of 3/2/1

First, sorry for creating any impression that "tomorrow" meant "first thing tomorrow morning".  I didn't intend to leave you hanging when I started the project last night.  I just got sleepy and the blog post got long, so I broke it up.

Ok, without further ado, back to my journal entry...

I took one look at the ring and my first reaction was "This is a narrow band, all we ever talked about loving was a wide band." (I can't believe I just admitted that on the world wide web.  Of all parts of this story that I would like to omit, that one takes the cake.  For the record, I do wear a wide band today.  RRL had the wide band in his pocket, but had been so anxious to propose that he hadn't yet had the diamond mounted on the new band.  Yeah,  I know.)  I was shocked even at myself for having such a superficial thought.  It wasn't like me at all and it made me wonder why I was really doing this.  Slowly, I put the ring back in the box and handed it to him as I told him that I just didn't think I could say "yes".  I didn't feel anything at that moment.  It should have been one of the most exciting moments of my entire life and I felt neither joy nor sadness.  I wasn't scared, I wasn't nervous, I wasn't anything.  Looking back, I KNOW that Satan was the one who attempted to rob me of the feelings of the moment.  He knew that Ricky and I had committed to be a team in ministry and I think that really scared him (I really hope I didn't mean for that to sound so cocky at the time). 

I called my mom and told her I said "no" (I was overcome as soon as I heard her voice and I think she thought RRL was dead or something because all I could get out at first was "RRL...he...RRL...and I... ) and RRL called my roommates, who were waiting with the Willises and other friends for us to come home with exciting news.

My mom was really encouraging.  She just listened as I sobbed and then she calmed me down.  She never told me I was wrong or making a bad decision.  She just told me to look at RRL.  To forget everything else and look at him.  When I did, the Lord filled me with an amazing love and a complete assurance about wanting to spend my life with him. (I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I can still vividly remember that moment- I still clearly remember the visions of our future family that flooded me in that instant.)

Ricky had asked my roommates to come out to where we were (oh, my. These three were...and still are...such amazing friends.  Thank you, girls, for the blessing and encouragement you were through all of this)  Just as I was headed over to explain to him how wrong I had been, they pulled up.  In the headlights of their car, I asked RRL if he would still consider marrying me.  He told me that I was not allowed to ask him and then, with the same gentleness and with a new confidence, he got down on his knee A SECOND TIME.  This time, (with all the Joy the Lord intends when you catch a glimpse of His amazing plans designed just for you) I said Yes, Yes, Yes ABSOLUTELY yes!!  Then I got to yell and scream with my roommates who were thrilled everything was okay, but a little confused as to what had happened.

We never made it to Nashville (because it was so late by this point) but lots of other good things came out of the way things happened. (But we did head to Dallas to celebrate with all of RRL's family and my Momma flew in that weekend so I could celebrate with her, too).  For one, as I already mentioned, my roommates were all there when I said YES and it was amazing to get to share that moment with them.  Secondly, we got to have some time with Dr. and Mrs. Willis by ourselves.  They had gone home and gone to bed and I think we quite surprised them when we showed up on their doorsteps in the middle of the night, but they never let on.  If we had gone back to my house where everyone was waiting, we would have only seen them in the crowd.  Instead, though, we went to their house and had a very special time of prayer with them.  During this time of prayer, Dr Willis encouraged us to really think about the spiritual battle of the night, the implications of Satan's attack and the Lord's conquering powers.  He is incredibly wise, so gentle and loving in his encouragement.  The biggest blessing that came out of saying "no" is that I won't ever wonder if saying "yes" was the right thing.  I have a confidence in our union and I feel the Lord's presence in our relationship in a new way.

And that's where the journal version ends.  I love that I documented what I thought to be the biggest blessing at that time...only one month after it happened.  I should have known that the blessings were really just beginning.  Our marriage has not been perfect, sometimes far from it.  RRL has always said that he believes the marriages of Ministers are attacked in a unique way because of their visibility to other vulnerable marriages.  I think he's right.  We've seen it.  And this night didn't free us from further attacks or struggles.  But I will say it did uniquely prepare us for our marriage.   If even for an hour, we faced what looking into the future as individuals would look like and we made a decision that the road ahead looked better (MUCH BETTER) knowing we would travel it together.  We prayed that we would be stronger in ministry together than we could be individually (thank you, J.Reese), and we've continued to hold that as the standard for the health of our marriage.  We also gained a glimpse into the ways Satan attacks and manipulates our emotions.  While he is NOT the victor (praise the Lord), he is also not a force to face naively.  This is why I find myself weeping in prayer for the Lord to save the marriages of those we love.  Its so much more than just praying that He won't let them get divorced, that He won't allow their families to be torn apart.  Its a prayer for the victory we believe in to come quickly and thoroughly. 

There is no way I could have articulated at the time, but that night, as we committed to each other and to the Lord, there was indeed a little taste of the coming victory.  A victory made sweeter by knowing we could not earn it or deserve it.  So, after years of keeping it to ourselves, that's why we needed to tell this story.  We are richly blessed.

Oh, and I still have that gold string.  It ties together many of the cards and letters that RRL has written me over the years.  Just reaffirming, that he's something pretty if asking me TWICE wasn't proof enough.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3-2-1 ... A little known story

Ten years ago today, on the 2nd of March, 2001 (03-02-01) I said "Yes" and agreed to become Mrs RRL.  It was one of the top two most significant affirmative answers I've given in my lifetime.

But I didn't say "Yes" until he asked a second time and that is the part of the story I'm anxious to tell.

I've never documented this story before.  Except in my personal journal.  Until very recently, RRL and I never shared the entire story together.  We'd each shared pieces of it with close friends and family, occasionally with teenagers who asked or jokingly referred to its events.  On the tenth anniversary of our engagement, though, it seems appropriate to add it to our family blog, our chronicle of what is molding and shaping our family.  I always use lots of words when telling stories...I can't help myself (sorry).  And this story is no different, too many good details to leave anything out.  Apparently, I felt the same way 10 years ago, because I filled pages and pages sharing it.  I'm going to start by just typing straight from my college journal and then add some commentary, so I'm sure this will end up being more than one post.

It has been more than one month since we were engaged (3-2-01)!  Things are not perfect, as they will never be, but God is at work in our relationship.  (We had already navigated some difficult days in our relationship.  We'd broken up for more than 4 months and had been to counseling to help work through some of our differences in our family backgrounds.  Much of that is way too personal for the www, but if you ever want to know more, I'd be happy to share in person)  It sometimes scares me to not know where we are headed, but I'm so excited to go down this path with him.  The past month has been the first period of time since we started dating that I knew, from deep down inside of me, that he WAS INDEED the one God has been preparing as my husband.  What an amazing feeling.  It took saying "No" to RRL, though, to have that confidence.
I'll start from the beginning...On Wednesday, RRL asked me if we could have a special date on Friday night.  Although he has been taking me on "special dates" a lot recently to try to throw me off, (He was so tricky, determined that the nigh of our engagement would be a complete surprise.  On more than one occasion he had taken me on an amazing date, lead me to believe "this was it" and then calmly just taken me home.  What a punk.) this time just seemed different   He was almost nervous just to ask me out on the date and I had to hide my face for fear my grin would would let him know what I suspected.  I could hardly wait until Friday, and I tried to convince myself that I was reading too much into it because I did not want to be disappointed if it wasn't really "THE night" I had been anxiously waiting for.  (I was so young- I read so many of my immaturities in the way I was "anticipating" him asking me to marry him.  But it really was such a FUN thing to wait for).

Friday afternoon I saw R's cousin, K, and she was so excited, but couldn't really tell me why.  Then she made some comment about how much RRL and I were going to be driving over the weekend.  That was the clincher.  I knew that she meant we were going to be driving to Nashville and the only reason we would drive to Nashville was if I was really ENGAGED (I'd had to do so many things "long-distance" with my family.  I had made it very clear that I was going to tell my Momma and Daddy in person that I was getting married)!!  Still, though, I tried to push the thought from my mind (unsuccessfully, I might add!)

Finally, 7:30 rolled around.  RRL picked me up wearing his nice suit and looking AMAZING (Amazing was double underlined in my journal- ha.).  He told me he was taking me to dinner, but wanted to blindfold me so that the destination would be a surprise.  When he took the blindfold off we were inside the cutest little guesthouse, a one room that included a living area, bedroom area, and a kitchen.  Everything was so nicely decorated with matching furniture and antques, so I KNEW that this was not any of our college friends' houses (haha, our houses consisted of parents' leftover furniture, and Club pictures as decorations), but he wouldn't tell me where we were.  He had an amazing table laid with a lace cloth, candles, china, 6 gorgeous red roses that were just huge, sparkling grape juice and coconut shrimp from Red Lobster (my favorite!!) I do like Red Lobster, but you know we were in Abilene if I actually called it my favorite- the choices were slim apparently.

We ate, only neither of us really touched our food, we laughed nervously and smiled unendingly.  When we were leaving he took me outside to let me see where we were.  I was SO surprised and SO impressed.  He had arranged for us to eat in my favorite house in all of Abilene.  This is the cutest house on Cedar Crest, just a couple of blocks from school and every time I go past it I say "that is my favorite house in Abilene."  (I loved it because it had these amazing trees in the front yard that framed it like a picture in a storybook, it reminded me of home).   Apparently one of his friends knew the people that lived there and asked if we could use their Bed and Breakfast, a back part of the house.  That was one of the most thoughtful things that anyone has ever done for me which made it all the more exciting.

Next we went out to "our spot" in the country where we would go dancing sometimes.  We danced there after our first Club Formal together and we had our first kiss there.  Anyway, he took me there to dance after dinner and he had a CD made of all our favorite songs to dance to (he really put so much thought into this night).  As we were dancing to "our song" from Hope Floats "Chances Are", he got down on one knee and said a bunch of sweet things (which I don't remember because I was so nervous), then he pulled out the ring box.

I had always told him that I didn't care what the ring looked like because I know he doesn't have much money.  I told him that even if he just tied a gold string around my finger, I would be thrilled.  When he opened the box, a piece of gold string was tucked inside in the shape of a ring.  He slipped it on my finger as he asked me to marry him and I realized that it was attached to something so I started pulling on the end of the string.  As I pulled, more and more of the string came out of his pocket until I had a whole wad of it (really, i used the word wad)!  At the end of the string was a beautiful solitaire ring. 

This is where things start going from extremely exciting to extremely weird...

More tomorrow.  With pictures.