This is where the story gets really good. And a little bizarre. But mostly good.
It was early evening when my flight from Michigan landed in Colorado Springs. My dad met me at the gate and we chatted casually about my trip as we got my suitcase and then headed out to the parking lot. When we got outside I noticed a beautiful white limousine out of the corner of my eye and muttered to my dad “whoa… that’s pretty.” I kept walking in the direction of the parking lot, happily chatting my dad’s leg off. Until he said “Julie… this is for us…” and stood next to the open door of the limo.
I had never been in a limo before. I’m not sure how long I stood there with my mouth hanging open, but it must have been several seconds because my dad had to tell me again “this is ours! Come on!” I climbed in, looked around, and instantly became very nervous. I asked my dad “what’s going on? Did someone die??” He laughed and said no. My hands started to shake, and my dad chuckled and offered me a drink from the ice-box between our seats. Pepsi or Sprite? Are you serious?? I’m not thirsty! Why are we in a limo right now??
Finally he decided to stop torturing me, and he reached for my hand.
“Honey, remember when you said a few months ago that if God wanted you to get married, he would have to show you the man’s name in the Bible?”
I nodded. My heart began to race.
My dad reached into his jacket and pulled out his little pocket Bible. He flipped it open, handed it to me and said “I know you were kidding. But can you read me that piece that I have highlighted right there?”
I took the Bible from him and scanned the page for the yellow highlighted words. There they are. 2 Sam 12:1 “And God sent Nathan.”
My eyes were probably as big as my face when I looked back up at my dad. He said, “You know Nathan has been here the whole time you were visiting Amanda. He has not asked to get to know you, or for permission to pursue a casual relationship. He has asked for your hand in marriage, and your mom and I have given our blessing. It’s totally up to you now.”
(Nathan’s perspective will be in bold type so we can switch back and forth)
I wanted Burnie to be able to focus on talking to Julie about everything so I hired a limo to handle the transportation. I told him that he should let her know why I was really here on the way home from the airport an hour away. If she was ok with it, then I would stay and we could talk… if not then I could be gone before they were home and they would not hear from me again. He proposed a middle option as well, that I could just give her some time and wait for a few days nearby if she wanted to talk later. I really didn’t expect her to be interested despite what her family all said… that she would be. I had my bags packed in the car when Burnie left and then waited in the kitchen for the call, expecting to hear “hit the road, Jack”.
I was full of questions. I fired them off as fast as they came to mind. But the only ones my dad would answer were the ones about his own personal thoughts on the matter. Everything I asked about Nathan or how this came about was met with “well that’s Nathan’s part of the story… I’ll let him answer that one.” What I *did* learn is that my dad had a lot of respect for Nathan. He said that he and my mom both thought that Nathan was a great match for me, and they would give their full support if I decided to go for it.
When my questions slowed to a trickle, Dad told me that Nathan’s bags were packed and he was waiting for an answer. If it’s no, he’ll be gone and I’ll never hear about it again. If it’s maybe, he’s prepared to stay somewhere else until I am ready to hear his side. If it’s yes, he wants to talk when we get home. I hesitated. Then he asked, “Do you want him to leave?” No hesitation this time. “No! No don’t let him leave. I want to hear what he has to say.”
We were getting close to home when the limo dropped us off at my dad’s truck, and I heard him make the call. “It’s a yellowish-green light. She wants to hear your story.”
I started getting nervous. Is this really happening? This is weird. I don’t even know this guy. How is he so sure about me? What guts it must take to put himself on the line like this. I hope I don’t hurt him. What if he’s a dork? No, he can’t be a dork if my dad likes him. My dad knows me better than anyone. If he says I will like him, I’m sure I will. Can I say maybe? What if I can’t be as decisive about him as he has been about me? Will he wait until I’m sure? We have exchanged only a handful of words in 5 yrs. This is so weird. I’m not old enough to make this kind of decision. I could be walking into a marriage proposal tonight, and I just stepped off a plane with only 3 hrs of sleep under my belt. Ack! Where is a mirror???
We pulled into the driveway and my little siblings came pouring out the front door. They knew. They were all so excited, hugging and chattering and taking my bags inside.
There he was. Standing in the door, holding it open for me, smiling. I walked in, completely unsure of what to do with my now-empty hands. Hugging would seem awfully familiar… shaking his hand would be too formal… Maybe I can just buzz past and look like I’m in a hurry to hug my mom. Then Nathan stuck his hand out and instinctively I responded. We just shook hands. He’s proposing to me tonight and I just shook his hand. This may very well be the most awkward moment of my life.
Finally I got to my mom! We stood in the kitchen and hugged. I whispered “what do you think of this??” and she whispered back “we are so excited.” Then she pulled back, looked right into my eyes, and said “Honey, this is completely your call. We think he’s great, but it’s entirely up to you and we will support whatever decision you make…” Then, with a twinkle in her eye, she added “…but if you say no I will kick your fanny all over these 200 acres!” Of course she was kidding! But that’s what I needed to know. She’s on board.
Suddenly I became aware of some soft piano music playing in the background, the fire in the fireplace, and the complete absence of all my brothers and sisters. My mom gave me a nudge and said “go on! He’s anxious to talk to you.” And again my eyes grew wide. “hu uh. I’m not going in there alone! Please come with me?” She and my dad agreed. They calmly sat down on the couch and I quickly parked myself next to my dad.
I was floored when he said “she wants to meet you tonight”. So once she was home and had hugged and kissed everyone I sat on the ottoman in the living room and told her my story. Every time I had met her, how it had affected me, and how I felt God had been the one arranging all these “coincidental” meetings. I really hadn’t planned very well what to say next so what came out was “so basically I am asking you to marry me.” Blah… no jumbotron, no sky writing, not even a fancy diner, down on one knee and with a ring. I didn’t even have a ring. Yes, I hold the record for the lamest proposal ever in the history of man, maybe even life on this planet. Earthworms have me beat for romantic flair.
It was actually about an hour of listening to Nathan recount every meeting (including the first) we ever had. I was floored by how detailed his memory was. Shocked that I made such an impression. Impressed by how calm and collected he was, even giving this speech to me AND my parents. He ended with “So basically I am asking you to marry me. I’m not just asking you to be my wife, but to also be a missionary wife. God has called me back to Mexico, and I plan to be a missionary there for the rest of my life.” Wow. So, nothing big or important to decide on, hu?
At the end of his speech, he said “Just tell me what to do. Say the word and I’ll go back to Texas and never bother you again. Or if you want, I can stay somewhere else until you’re ready to see me again. I can work around here for a few weeks so we can talk more… I’ll do whatever.”
Part of me wanted to be caught up in the emotion of it and say yes on the spot. Part of me panicked. When he finished talking he looked expectantly at me. My parents followed suit. I was pretty solidly in a state of shock at this point, and managed to get out something like “can I have a day to think about this?” Nathan said “of course! Take all the time you need. I’m going to go to bed now. Goodnight!”
She shocked me by asking if she could take some time to think about it! I slept like a rock, no worries, heck; I had expected to be on my way back to Dallas at this point.
My parents sat with me for a few minutes and we talked about what Nathan had just told me. I asked about the missionary idea and I remember SO clearly what my dad said, as it has been a massive source of encouragement to me over the years. “Being a missionary would be hard. But I’ve always thought that if any of my children could do it, it would be you.”
It was now after 10 pm, so my parents went to bed. I fell asleep about 5 hrs later. I tried to pray, but my thoughts were all over the place. I tried to sleep, but I could not lay still. I finally just starting asking God to make things more clear in the morning, and let me rest. He did both.