Mark asked me to marry him on Friday around 11:30 in New Braunfels, TX. It was a complete SURPRISE (which was one of the 4 S's Mark strived for- surprise, simple, sentimental, & support). So here's the story of us...
We met at camp (TbarM) during summer 2009. We had a crush on each other but didn't know each other outside of camp so we decided to have hang out and talk about us during the end of the summer. We went out to eat and to the outlets then sat on a dock on the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels. We chatted for hours and then concluded that we would be friends and see how things went. I then proceeded to ask him to jump in the river with me (because I'm spontaneous). This sent him mixed signals, and he asked to meet up the next weekend which is when we high fived as friends and Mark told me, "I take things really slow." Long story short, we started talking every night on the phone and in October he asked my dad for permission to date me. We drove the 5 1/2 hour trip from OBU (Arkadelphia) to BU (Waco) every couple of weeks. It was a wonderful season of getting to know each other. We spent the next two summers on the leadership team together and grew very much in our relationship with the Lord and each other. For many years, I desired to attend the Focus on the Family Institute and when Mark told me he was looking at going to the Kanakuk Institute, I was like "Great! You do your thing, I'll do mine." I can be independent at times and I realized I had a fear of man about what others would think if I followed him to Branson. Last October, I visited the Institute with Mark and fell in love with the community and what God was up to here in this place. I started praying about it and God gave me a peace. I realized I wanted to attend the KI whether Mark went or not, but the fact that we are both here is the icing on the cake!! It has been the best season of my life. We both have grown so much in our walks and knowledge of the Lord. We strive everyday to live a life of excellence. Walking in victory is thrilling!
So back to the story of us... Mark and I did not spend this Christmas break together. I went to FL for 3 weeks and he went home to College Station. It was a hard break for me. I love my family dearly and I loved seeing them, but because of my age and singleness, I fell somewhere in between children and the 4 couples I was with. I knew and know marriage is not the end all, be all...but it was hard finding my place. Again, a lesson of trusting the Lord. (and all along, my family members knew what was about to happen just days ahead!) So on Jan 5, my parents and I flew out from Orlando to Austin and Mark picked us up. I did not think it weird or strange that my parents were flying to TX (they do this often and they hadn't seen Angie's family for Christmas). So we spent the day at Angies and the plan for Mark and I was to go to College Station the next day to spend some time with his parents. So the next morning, Angie and mom were cleaning house and said the realtor was coming to look at the house and they had things going on (so I didn't feel so bad leaving). During the morning my dad asked me twice if he could paint my nails (which is not peculiar because he did that growing up). I thought nothing of it, nothing was out of the ordinary. We packed our bags and said goodbye to my family. Rewind... Before Christmas break Mark gave me some dresses for my gift and told me the other half of my gift was coming (again, I thought nothing of this because I was doing the same thing with his gift). So he has thing small gift wrapped (a little book size) in his car and tells me I can open it when we get to New Braunfels. New Braunfels?? We needed to get to College Station and NB was 30 out of the way. Sad to say, I was a little put out and silent during the car ride because we just had to leave my family and we were going out of the way to pick something up for my "gift". So we got to NB and when we were coming up to the place on the river where we had our first talk... I had a 2 second "ah could this be an engagement" moment that I quickly squelched because I thought There is no way! He hasn't had time to get to the jewelers in Dallas. So all I thought was He's being sentimental... We walk down to the dock and I open my gift, which was a small journal of many many messages I had written him that he has kept since Sept 7, 2009 and the book was called "Her words, his thought". On one page were my word and the other side of the page were his thoughts. I laughed out loud and cried as I read through this journal....still thinking all along, this is the most sweet sentimental gift ever. After I finished reading, I told him thank you through the tears and snot. He started "the speech" which went like "remember last time we were here, you said you just wanted to be friends? And now we are best friends..." and got on his knee and pulled out a ring box out of his boot and it then hit me. I am not sure what he said after that because I started saying "yes yes yes yes yes yes yes"!! We jumped up and down and celebrated for the next 10 mins. It truly was the best day and the most wonderful surprise I have ever had! We went back to Angie's to find not the realtor but all my sisters, their families, my parents, Mark's sister and parents, and our good friends Frank & Rachel. We had a cook out and celebrated all day long! My heart has been gushing all day everyday of the goodness of God's timing and His love. The love Mark and I have for each other is just the overflow of the intimate relationship with have individually with Christ. He is and always be first and we are each other's 2nd love. God has been so faithful, so kind to bless us with each other. As I sit here and right this I have tears in my eyes. I can hardly comprehend it all. I have awoken each morning since to look at my gorgeous ring and be reminded that this is all for His glory! Mark is not mine, he is the Lords and each day I give Mark back to Him with thankfulness. The day after the engagement, I opened my Bible to where I was reading in Psalms and oh this is how I felt- Ps 95:1-3 "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a JOYFUL noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a JOYFUL noise to him with songs of praise. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods."
We returned to the Institute two days ago and have been able to share our story and excitement with 70 friends. We also had about 10 hours in the car that we got to talk and plan on the way back. This will be a union for the Lord and will be HIS day, not ours. I am not stressed or worried, so excited and know all things will fall into place as we trust him.
Please pray for focus as Mark and I have A LOT going on at the Institute that we want to pour our whole hearts into and not be distracted...that we will balance our time wisely. Also, please pray for a sustained peace for us as we trust the Lord to open doors for a job. Mark is believing and claiming Lam 3:25- The LORD is good to those who wait on Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
Fun note: We went to the airport last night to pick up our speaker for this week and his flight was delayed, so we got to start our registry at BB&B...it was a blast!
To God be the glory, great things He has done!