Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m starting a new blog:
From now on, I’ll be blogging there instead of here.
I was reminded recently that I never posted the proposal video, which also includes Dad’s take on the engagement story. It’s a little on the long side, but those of you who know my dad will understand once you watch it. Enjoy!
106 days, 19 hours, 26 minutes and 43 seconds until my wedding.
Holy cow. That’s both a long ways off and right around the corner. Time is funny like that.
Wedding planning is less stressful than I would’ve thought, but that’s probably largely due to the fact that my mom has done the bulk of the heavy lifting. Thanks, mom!
These last couple months of planning, anticipation and wondering about the future have also made me nostalgic. I’ve thought back over the last year or so of my life, and boy, have things changed. Things have changed, are still changing and will keep changing for the foreseeable future. There’s a time when that would have really made me anxious, but surprisingly enough, I’m feeling pretty good about it.
When you think about it, I’ve been in a solid year of constant transition. This time last year, I was preparing to move to Dallas. I moved to start a new position at work that I was completely unqualified for at the time. I left behind all my friends, my church, my house – everything that made me feel comfortable. I started over in a brand new city where I didn’t know anyone.
After a few tense and lonely months, things finally started to feel settled. I was doing well at work, making friends, finding my routine. And then Mike comes along. So just as I was starting to find my equilibrium, all of a sudden I found myself in a new relationship that was moving at warp speed. That’ll throw off your balance a little.
A few months later, I’m engaged, planning a wedding and preparing to move back to the Eastern Time Zone. So yeah, one solid year of nothing but transition. It has been hard. Really hard at times. There have been a lot of frustrations and a lot of tears.
But now that I’m standing here looking back, I’ve realized something. Somewhere in the midst of the changes, of the turmoil, of the uncertainty… I found freedom. Freedom from feeling like I had to know how everything was going to turn out. Freedom from a desperate need to control everything and everyone around me. Freedom from making decisions based on what other people think.
I can’t really pinpoint exactly when or how it happened. But I know that I am thankful for it. Because, let’s face it, this season of transition is nowhere close to being over!
Here is the story of our engagement from Mike’s perspective:
Chapter 1: Buying the Ring
It was a conversation in the car over Thanksgiving that started the ring search. Jen told me to talk Shawn. She had gone to the mall, tried on rings, and sent the one she liked to Shawn in an email with her ring size.
So I talked to Shawn.
She sent me the link to the ring Jen liked, and I started doing research online.
A couple weeks later I finally got together with Shawn to go look at rings. We met at the mall and found the ring Jen had sent in the email at one of those mall jewelry chains. We grabbed dinner from the food court and looked at a couple of the other jewelry stores. It was approaching 8 PM, and all the jewelry store were closing. We decided to see if we could get to one of the stores outside the mall so we headed to my car and started making calls to see if any of them were staying open late. The first one, a national discount chain, we called and the doors were already locked at 8:03 and there was no way they would stay open late. The second one we called was a local chain, and they were willing to stay open late for us.
We got there, and looked. I picked out a diamond and decided on a setting. I made a deal and it was done. I’d have the ring in a week.
Chapter 2: Hot Potato
So I had a ring.
It felt like it was burning a hole in my pocket. I had to get rid if this thing. But that meant I had to do one thing first. I had to talk to her dad.
I knew my only chance to talk to her dad would the Thursday before Christmas. If I didn’t do by then, it would have to wait until after New Years, since Jen was driving to her parents that day. If you read the last paragraph, you know that wasn’t an option. Plus, I had the day off and was already driving home for Christmas, so I could make a 3 hour detour (on a 3 hour drive) and beat Jen there and leave. Jen would be none the wiser.
I had her dad’s card and cell phone number from when he backed into my car. And I had just finished getting estimates to fix my bumper, so I needed to talk to him anyway. So I gave him a call and arranged to meet.
We ended up meeting at their house. Her parents fed me reheated pizza from lunch, since I was running a little late. I got there and we sat down at the table. Her mom had set me a place for lunch. I was a little awkward. As I ate lunch, I gave her parents the estimates to fix bumper and let them look those over as I ate. Once that was done, we moved on the main event. I showed them the ring, and I asked her dad for permission to marry Jen. He of course said yes. I then asked for help on the proposal.
If there is one thing you need to know about her dad, it’s that he loves chocolate. I brought her dad some chocolates I had gotten from my favorite store Costco. Too bad I forgot to bring them in until after we had sat down and talked. But everything turned out well, and I left their house with a plan to propose.
Chapter 3: Showtime
So I had a ring. And I had her dad’s permission. Now I needed the girl.
I went with my first instinct: to surprise her on Christmas day at her parents’ house. She wouldn’t be expecting to see me until the Wednesday after Christmas.
Her parents were helping. This was the plan as sent to me by her dad:
1. you text from the driveway (having given some updates so we know about when this will be)
2. I take Jennifer out of the room
3. you are waiting by the door and when the room is cleared Rexann will open the door
4. you get positioned however you want
5. Rexann will call me back
So I get up Christmas morning, do the Christmas thing, and then get ready. I leave my parents’ house with the threat of rain that evening. And drive. For 3 hours. I make sure to keep her parents updated on my eta. I finally get to Montgomery, and let her dad know I’m 10 minutes away.
Then I arrive. I sit in the driveway for a minute preparing myself. It was raining, so I txt her dad that I’m outside, and get out of the car and wait under the carport. I make sure the ring is in my right jacket pocket. A minute later her mom opens the door and waves me in.
So I’m standing there in her parent’s family room. Waiting. Making a little small talk with her mom. We hear her and her dad talking. I hear something about going to the bathroom from Jen, and the bathroom door close. Her dad sneaks into the family room.
A minute later she comes out from the back and says hi and stands there.
I remember saying surprise, and her just standing there.
We all stand where we are for minute making small talk. I remember her dad taking pictures with Jen’s new camera. I then move next to her, because she hasn’t taken one step towards me and is still standing by the door into the family room. I say hi, and we make small talk for a few more minutes. I’m kinda waiting for Jen to wind down, and that doesn’t seem to be happening. So I interrupt. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I do remember telling her that over the last 6 months or so she had become my best friend. I know I said more, but that was the one thing I really thought was important. As I ask her to marry me, I get down on my knee and pull out the ring. She immediately hugs me while I’m down on my knee and says yes.
I awkwardly stand up while she’s hugging me and we separate. She takes the ring and puts it on her finger.
I wanted to write the story of how Mike and I got engaged. Part 1 will be from my perspective, and Parts 2 and 3 will be from Mike and my dad’s perspectives. So here’s how it went down:
Christmas morning started out like any normal Christmas morning. Dad woke me up around 9:30. Mom, Dad and I opened our stockings, ate our usual breakfast of cinnamon rolls, and then opened presents. After we opened presents, we watched Christmas movies on Hallmark channel or something like that.
Our family’s tradition for a long time has been to go to a movie after we eat our Christmas dinner. Mom kept saying we wanted to go to an early movie this year because matinees are cheaper and suggesting that I go ahead and shower so we could go to the movie right after we ate. I wasn’t quite sure why it was such a big deal that we go to the movie immediately after we ate, but I wasn’t going to argue.
Eventually (after I had showered), while we were still waiting for the food to be ready, Dad tapped me on the shoulder and signaled me to follow him. Assuming he was planning something to surprise my mom, I followed him into my parents’ bedroom. He asked me what happened to the present for my mom he’d hidden in his room and asked me to wrap. I was momentarily confused, because I remembered going into their room, getting it out of its hiding place, and putting it with the presents I wrapped. I thought I wrapped it, but I couldn’t be sure. She definitely hadn’t opened it that morning, though.
I remembered that after I got the present out of hiding, I went into my brother’s room to get the rest of the presents that I needed to wrap. I figured I must’ve set it down in there while I was getting the rest of them gathered up. Dad followed me into my room and I looked all around for Mom’s present. I retraced my footsteps of where I’d picked up all the other presents I’d wrapped, but I didn’t see it anywhere. I thought I must’ve wrapped it after all, and maybe it was in the living room somewhere. So I said we should go look around out there to see if we could find it.
Here’s where it got weird. The overhead light in my brother’s room doesn’t work, so you have to turn on a lamp for light in there. The light is plugged into the clapper. So Dad started turning the light off and on by clapping. Then he wanted to see if he could make the clapper work by snapping. He could, so then he wanted to know if I could do it too. So I did, and then we both had to try it with our other hands.
Now, the whole time we were playing with the clapper, he was standing in the doorway so I couldn’t get through. I kept suggesting that we go back into the living room because the mysteriously missing present had to be in there somewhere. But he wouldn’t move out of the doorway. Finally, I said I had to go to the bathroom so he let me out. While I was in the bathroom, I heard him yell that the present must be in the living room after all. So when I left the bathroom, I walked into the living room, and Mike was standing there.
It was at this point that I had a good idea what was coming. We were all kind of standing there making awkward small talk. My dad was taking pictures of us with the new camera I’d just gotten for Christmas. I thought I knew what was about to happen, but I wasn’t quite positive, so I didn’t know what to say or how to act. I just kept talking because I didn’t know what else to do.
Finally Mike started into the proposal. I don’t really remember what he said, but I do remember the part where he got down on one knee with the ring and asked me to marry him. Luckily, dad sort of caught the whole thing on video. (The camera wasn’t aimed quite right, so our heads are cut off on the video, but the audio’s good.)
Looking back, I suppose it should’ve been a bit more obvious that my parents were up to something, but all the signs could have otherwise been explained, so I missed them all. Here are the things that could’ve tipped me off and why they didn’t:
- There was the fact that they were both pretty insistent that I should go shower, but that was explained by the movie.
- There was the fact that it took the oven over an hour to heat up before mom put the food in the oven, but that was also easily explained because my parents’ oven has been quasi-broken for years. In reality, she was delaying Christmas dinner until after Mike got there
- There was Dad’s sudden obsession with the lighting in our living room. He made Mom change out light bulbs in the overhead light and lamps because it was too dark in there. It’s always been a little dark in that room, so I did actually wonder why he was so bothered by it that particular day. He said it was because he had gotten old and needed more light. It seemed to make enough sense at the time.
- There was also the fascination with the clapper, but that didn’t raise any flags for me because, well, my dad is just that weird. Those of you that know him probably also wouldn’t think it that unusual to watch him spend several minutes playing with the clapper,
- The one that really should’ve tipped me off was when Dad set up the video camera on the tripod while I was watching. He had the camera hooked up to his laptop, so I assumed he had something recorded on it that he was transferring to the laptop. And I figured the tripod was to get the camera up out of the way so that Maddie (my dog) or Kumo (my parents’ dog) didn’t bump it and knock it over.
- And then there’s the missing present that I had been pretty sure I’d wrapped. They had hidden it that morning so that my dad could call me away to ask about it to allow Mike to get into the house without my knowing about it.
So in hindsight all the pieces fit together perfectly, and I really feel like I should’ve figured it out. But I’m glad I didn’t because I was hoping Mike would find a way to surprise me. I didn’t expect my parents to be co-conspirators, but again, I probably should’ve seen that coming as well.
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 from Mike and dad’s perspectives. Not sure which will be next – it depends on who finishes their part and gets it to me first!
I’ve been in Dallas for about two and a half months now, and I still haven’t settled on a church. After going to Every Nation, Tallahassee for the last seven years and being so heavily involved, it’s definitely been interesting to attend so many different churches and have an outsider’s experience. It can be intimidating walking into a brand new church where you don’t know anyone, especially if it’s a big church.
Here’s what has blown my mind: at a lot of the churches I went to, I walked in, sat for 10 or 15 minutes before the service, attended the service, then walked out after it was over without a single person speaking to me. That is what happened at most of the churches I’ve visited. This has honestly been my biggest obstacle to finding a church. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, and I am generally pretty uncomfortable in large groups of strangers. So the couple of churches where people have actually talked to me and made me feel welcome are the ones I’m going back to.
If you’re a member of a church and you see someone sitting by themselves on a Sunday morning, go say hi and invite them to sit with you or maybe to lunch with you and your family or friends. It’s really easy to just get caught up in your circle and not even notice a new person. I know I’ve been guilty of that a lot myself. But I’m definitely going to be more aware of it in the future!
Just one of my observations while I’m on the church hunt. I may share some others later.
I’ve had about 3 weeks to adjust to the idea that in March I’m moving to Dallas. It hasn’t gotten any less weird in that time. It has, however, gotten a little less scary. I’ve spent the last week in Dallas. I’ve done a lot of training, a lot of house hunting, and a little bit of socializing. I’m actually writing this from a Panera in Addison because I had to be out of the hotel by noon, but my flight’s not until 6.
I think I found a place to live. It’s not 100% yet, but hopefully it will be in the next few days. It’s pretty close to work, which is definitely a good thing for right now since I don’t know the area that well. I did do some exploring this afternoon, and I was able to get around the area without using my gps. The North Dallas/Addison area is actually pretty easy to navigate, and I don’t have a great sense of direction. I can get from the house to the office to Wal Mart to the mall and several restaurants without much trouble. And I think I can make it back to DFW from here with no electronic assistance. We’ll have to see, though. All in all, that’s a pretty big relief because I was picturing myself being lost all the time and never knowing how to get anywhere.
The work part of this trip has been pretty crazy. Most of the time I was at the office was spent in with the guy that’s currently doing the job I will be doing soon. He explained a lot of stuff to me, and then I watched him do a lot of other things that I may or may not actually remember in a few weeks when I get out here for real. I definitely have a lot of work to do to get up to speed on the new system, but it won’t take me long. I hope. They are sending me to another training in South Carolina the week after next that’s going to be 2.5 days of really intense sessions in the system. Hopefully that will help.
The company didn’t get me a rental car until Friday, so Monday through Thursday I was chauffeured around by a coworker that lives near the hotel I was staying in. That turned out to be a lot of fun, because I ended up hanging out with various coworkers after work every day. It was a really good way to start getting to know people outside the office. I’ve been working with a lot of these people for several years now. We’ve emailed and talked on the phone a lot, but now I’m finally meeting everyone in person. It’s so weird finally meeting people in person that you’ve kind of known for a while. No one looks or acts like I thought they would. Not in a bad way or anything, it’s just always different than you think it’s going to be. Probably the funniest moment was when my boss picked me up at the airport, and since we’ve never met, neither of us knew what the other looked like.
So with the work and living situations on the right track, the next big thing on my list is finding a church. I’m definitely taking suggestions, so if anyone has one, please let me know!
Overall, it’s been a good week. I did have a minor moment of “WhytheheckamImovinghalfwayacrossthecountryawayfromeveryoneandeverythingIknow” this morning, but it passed, and I’m feeling pretty good about the transition. Leaving Tallahassee is going to be really hard but I am even more sure now that this is the right move for me. I’m equally excited and nervous about the change, overwhelmed by the idea of packing up everything I own, and really sad to be leaving Tallahassee. Really sad. So sad that I’m changing the subject right now because I don’t want to think about that part yet.
The next few weeks are going to be absolutely insane, though. I’m having wrist surgery at 7:00 tomorrow morning, so I’ll be out of work Monday and Tuesday. Then assuming my wrist heals like it should, I’m off to St. Augustine/Jacksonville next weekend to visit a couple friends. Wed-Fri of the following week is the South Carolina training, and since I’m flying out of Atlanta, I’m going to spend that weekend with my ATL crew. When I get back from Atlanta, I’ll be down to about 2 or 2.5 weeks until the big move. Um, what?! Yeah, it’s going to come fast. Yikes – I need to start packing about 2 weeks ago.
So that’s that for now. It’s going to be a crazy month or so, that’s for sure.