Yep! That’s right. 7 Months from today, on March 16, 2013, I’ll be getting a new last name.
Dan + Kate = the future Mr. and Mrs. Ng.
The sheer overwhelming nature of all of this, the story I wanted to write down in its completed form, and the planning-mode I’ve been in have caused this blog to be moved to my back burner…but it’s still simmering!
Part of the “overwhelming” is the beauty of mercy and strength of God as I ponder how all of this went down that day.
Let me begin at the beginning.
A month and a half ago Dan was at my house to celebrate the 4th of July with my family (the weekend after the 4th). On one of the days he was here, he asked to speak with my dad outside for a bit. I was sitting right there, and (obviously) was not to be part of the conversation. I played it off all-cool…and kept working on the graphic design project on Dan’s computer I had going for church. I knew that he had been at least contemplating looking at rings as he and I had talked about what I liked, and I’d given him my ring size.
They were out there on the front porch for more than just a bit of time, and I of course, grew increasingly curious as they eventually came inside, saying nothing about what had just transpired.
So, for almost a month I pondered what this meant, rotating back and forth between believing that I was over-thinking this, and certainty that I knew….you know…that they had THAT conversation.
I saw Dan quite a few weekends of July due to various commitments I had up north in Winona. Each time, I’d get my hopes up a bit, and though the weekends were great fun, there was always that nagging thought…”maybe today?”
But while I still pondered, July was a month of planning for you-know-who.
Dan helped me photograph my first official wedding photo shoot on July 28 for a friend of mine. I thought it might happen that weekend, but it didn’t. I must also include here in this account that in the middle of July I had seen on Dan’s calendar (while going over what weekends we’d be seeing each other), the word “idea?!” on the weekend of August 4.
After the wedding-photo-shoot weekend, my family had been planning a spur-of-the-moment vacation to Michigan and I departed with them. I left the vehicle I’d driven up to Winona at our adopted parent’s house (from church), and planned to return to Winona the following weekend for our friends Sarah and Sean’s wedding. It also happened that Dan’s parents had planned a visit to come see him from upstate New York for the weekend of August 4th with his sister Jen before she left for college in the fall.
My parents dropped me off at the Noser’s house (from church where my vehicle was and where I was planning to stay that weekend). I thought they were headed back to Indy. Dan wasn’t there yet, but I knew he’d be there around 11:30 to pick me up for the wedding. His parents would meet us at the church for Sean and Sarah’s ceremony. We went to the wedding and reception that afternoon. Afterwards, Dan wanted to go on a date, and his parent’s were great with it. I was slightly confused as I knew they had come to see HIM, but it didn’t seem like they were getting much time with him that day. But, everyone was just fine with it, so after changing into more casual clothes at Noser’s, He picked me up to go to a coffee shop named “The Brewha” in Columbia City (about a half hour away).
The ride there was, well, pretty silent, and awful tense.
I have to be honest and say that I was pretty worn out from waiting. Heart-sore and restlessly impatient, I was beginning to feel hurt. While I killed off my expectations in the passenger seat for the sake of thanksgiving, love, and joy, I tried to remember what I had read in Philippians 2 just before he had picked me up for our date. I wanted to be willing to be “poured out as a drink offering” and knew that only Jesus could heal really deep hurt. Neither of us could fix it.
Meanwhile, Dan knew what was transpiring back in Winona Lake. My family had not gone to Indy, but was collaborating with his family. He couldn’t tell me what was about to happen, because that would ruin the surprise. He listened reassured me as he could when I was able to voice words and ask questions. I was doing good to breathe and not burst into tears.
We finally got to Columbia City, and sat in the parking lot across the street from The Brewha. We sat there, talked, and slowly, words came. God kept me from high-tailing out of this relationship on that car ride. In fear and hurt, it would have been really easy to run. but truth won out, and God used the gift He had providentially directed me to prepare without my knowing of what was planned.
That day, August 4th, was our 10 month anniversary. Mom had suggested I pick up rocks along the shore-line and write something meaningful for Dan in celebration of the 10 month mark. I pondered what I’d learned, and prepared the “Ebenezer” gift. Sitting there, in the car, I pulled it out and said he should open it. Dan read through the pages of note’s I’d written aloud…which was just what I needed. I desperately needed a good dowsing of the truth I’d been learning from God and about God during the past 10 months. I got it. After a very few tears, some scripture reading, prayer together, and watching a storm roll in, I was feeling much better and was ok to move forward with the date.
We waited out the crazy storm inside the coffee shop. Some smoothie-type drinks, flipping through a few artist/archeology books, and a reading a story aloud together later, we were on our way back to Winona. One thing I don’t ever want to forget was the sky that night. It started with seeing a rainbow as we headed to the car, and the reminder that “God keeps His promises”. Then, the sky lit up to brilliant gold in the most spectacular sunset I think I’ve ever seen. I felt relief, and was able to simply enjoy the time I had with Dan, listening to the radio, and talking with one another.
Almost back to Winona, Dan said he’d like to go on a walk if I was up for it. We’ve taken walks outside after dark before, so this was nothing new. I brought up his parents again, but he said they would still be up at 10pm at Nosers when we got back….
We got to his house, and while I snacked on half and orange and talked with his friend Kyle, Dan was hurrying. I was confused about the rush, but busied myself by spinning in the cool office chair I’d gotten for free for him, and whom I’ve affectionately named “Swirly”. Dan managed to get the ring off of the shelf in his room without my noticing (I was still swirlying in Swirly”), and into his pocket eventually.
We left the house, and were on our way walking down to the park/beach area. Our only hold up was my being easily distracted by the large tree that had been split in the storm right near a picnic bench we had used before.
We kept walking, and at one point he said he “was nervous, but should be relaxed.” This, and somehow being told that this was a surprise, had me wondering, but not too much. I’d had it in my mind that he would propose somewhere else, and this was not where we were walking toward.
As we walked toward/past the park-beach, I noticed something in the sky that looked like one of those lanterns from the movie “Tangled”. There were people busily moving about, lighting more lanterns I figured. I thought they might be friends of ours who were in town for the wedding, or maybe strangers. I had no idea that it was both our families and the Nosers setting off sky lanterns as Dan had directed.
I took off running across the parking lot (with him close behind) when the lantern started to dip back toward earth. I wanted to see it before it crash-landed into the water or sand. But, I threw on the brakes when I encountered the fire-pit area that had turned into a “pond/swamp” because of the severe storm that had rolled through that evening. Dan suggested we walk across the fire-pit benches, and when we reached the end, we stood there, and then he helped me down when I asked if we could go over “there”.
As we got closer, I suddenly heard my dad say “Hi!”. At that point I was shocked and confused, and then I realized that they were all there for a reason. A BIG REASON.
I turned back toward Dan, and he got down on one knee, said my name, and asked me to marry him.
I said, “Yes!”
We spend the rest of the night celebrating with our families and the Nosers. We called people who might still be up, and enjoyed the glow of everything that had happened.
But it is all God’s grace, you know?
The whole night was a giant metaphor of how God loves us.
We don’t get a clear picture from our circumstances down here, and the real hope we have is knowing that Jesus is coming back for us one day. He’s planning and preparing, and while our situations cloud our eyes, He’s still loving and leading us. When it is easy to back out (and as my pastor put it this past Sunday, “push the escape button”), He keeps us. We can not fathom all that our Beloved has laid up for us, all of the goodness He has stored. And as we lean into Him, trusting in who He is, we are given content confidence and peace. He is our peace.
He is our joy.