Nineteen years ago today, I stood before God, my family and friends, and pledged my love, life, and faithfulness to my beautiful bride and the love of my life. It was a beautiful day in September and I will never forget seeing her for the first time in her wedding gown as the doors opened and she began walking towards me. I remember thinking how beautiful she was and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world in that moment. I smiled so much that day that the muscles in my face hurt (and it wasn’t just from smiling from all the pictures that are usually taken at a wedding).
Our story was not necessarily unique as stories go but has enough uniqueness to make it uniquely ours. Cheryl and I grew up in the same church together. We both have pictures of events we were in at the same time, but as is the way of things as young kids, I had no use for girls at that time so I never really noticed her. It wasn’t until high school that I really “noticed” her. She was dating someone else at the time so I never really talked to her too much and I probably never would have as I was pretty shy in those days. It took a divine intervention to bring us together.
Cheryl’s school had a Sadie Hawkins Dance, which is basically an excuse for the girls to ask the guy who would never ask her to a dance because he was too shy or usually too dense to know she liked him. Cheryl and a bunch of girls from our youth group decided to put the names of some guys from the youth group into a hat and they had to ask the person whose name they drew to the dance. Now it is pretty obvious to me now that they put the names of people in the hat who they were sure didn’t have a date which is how my name got into the hat. I think I weighed all of 60 pounds and if I stood sideways you wouldn’t notice me except that my nose stuck out. So, in God’s divine providence, Cheryl drew my name out of the hat and she asked me to this dance.
Now I had no idea of the name drawing so I assumed she liked me. After all, why would a girl ask a guy to a dance if she didn’t like him? So I thought it would be a good idea if we went out before the dance and she said sure. So in order to impress her, I decided to take her to Sizzler. Sizzler for those of you who don’t know, is basically Denny’s with a salad bar. It actually sounds better than it really is. So we went to this place and I wanted to impress her so I ordered the biggest drinks they had and they give you a tray to take the drinks to your table while you wait for the food. As we got to the table I tilted the tray and the drinks began to slide off the tray. It all happened in slow motion because that is how I remember it. Coke went everywhere but all of the ice from the cups went into the purse of a women whose back was to us. Being the godly guy that I was I turned to Cheryl and said, “Quick let’s go before anyone notices.” We went and sat in the back corner. I was so embarrassed. As we were sitting there we saw the woman go to get her purse and see all the ice in it. She then looked up at her son and smacked him on the back of the head assuming he put the ice there. So I caused a kid to get busted for what I did on my first date with my wife!
So that is how it all started. We dated for six years until I could graduate from high school and college. I remember the day I proposed to her. I had already taken her dad out for breakfast and asked for her hand in marriage. I was ready to get engaged and wanted to make it special. I told Cheryl we were going to Santa Cruz to hang at the beach and then go to dinner afterward. There was a special spot at a Christian Conference Center where Cheryl and I spent a lot of time talking together along a creek. I knew I wanted to propose to her there so I had my friend Jimmy take the wedding ring and a huge shell and set it on the beach of that creek with the ring in the shell and wait for us to come so I could propose. The plan was perfect and I figured she would have no idea.
One thing about my wife is the fact that she has a way of smelling out any surprise. Her parents tried to throw a surprise party for her and all I had to do was take her out for dinner and bring her home to a house full of all her friends. I did well all the way up to where we were going into the door and she wanted to make me go first. I asked why and she said so everyone on the other side of the door would say surprise to me not her. She really can sniff this stuff out. Well on the day we were going to the beach she was getting all dressed up with full make up and everything. I was pretty dense at that time and thought, “Oh good. She will look great when I propose,” not thinking that she was thinking the same thing.
When we got to the Conference Center, where we always would stop when we went to Santa Cruz, she was looking around everywhere on the way to our spot. Then she asked me point blank, “Where is Jimmy?” She even knew my friend was there! Well we get to beach and the shell is there but she doesn’t see it because she was too busy looking for my friend. I start to worry that she will either find him or he would pass out somewhere in the weeds so I point out the shell to her. She sees it and says, “Cool my mom loves these things.” She picked it up and the ring fell out and by the look on her face I knew I had her. I got down on my knee and proposed. Now most women would say yes and the violins would start playing with hugs and kisses. Instead of yes, she says, “Did you ask my dad?” Now I have an audience in the bushes and this didn’t quite go how I thought it would. I told her I did and thankfully we then had the violin moment followed by a voice from the bushes saying, “Can I come out now?”
We have story after story like that. I am so blessed to be married to my best friend and such a beautiful woman as Cheryl. She knows me better than anyone else and knows what I need to hear at the times when I am the most high and the most low. She has a way of looking at me that tells me when she is proud of me and her eyes are the most beautiful I have ever seen. To say I am lucky is an understatement. I can’t imagine my life now nineteen years into my marriage apart from her. It doesn’t mean we haven’t had our lows in addition to our highs, but we have chosen to work through those points and it has led to a strength and comfort with one another that everyone really dreams about. This strength and comfort only comes through a track record and a history and history is only built over time. I am so excited today to be married to my high school sweetheart and look forward to another nineteen years and beyond of building this history we have that we call our marriage! I love you Cheryl, and happy anniversary!