Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Proposal (Part 2)

(Special thanks to LeeAnne and Sharon for reminding me that today is actually the tomorrow I promised yesterday!  Here we go.....)

So, knowing those we love is really a big help when trying to plan surprises for them!  And for the record, lying is not only acceptable but appropriate and to be expected for the following: Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Proposals!

I called Cody the week before Easter and pitched a possible idea for his consideration.

Regular readers already know this about us.  But every Easter since Kristin was two we've had a family sunrise service.  While it's morphed though the years to accommodate ages, interests and understanding, we thoroughly enjoy this tradition.

What if Cody high-jacked the sunrise service this year for the proposal?  It would meet all the elements both of them hoped for.  Surprise for him.  Dressed and picture ready for her.  Meagan could be there with the camera; it was, after all, Noah's first Easter.  (Brilliant, right?!)

As we talked, Cody started getting excited and the ideas started flowing.  Before that conversation ended, THE PLAN was in place.

He called Kristin the next day and told her they were going on a special date the Saturday night before Easter.  She should dress up because it would really be nice. Then he casually mentioned that she should bring sandals for a walk along the beach after dinner.

Getting off the phone, Kristin turned to her sisters and wailed.  "He's going to propose to me on the beach!  I hate the beach! (Kristin really dislikes getting sandy!  It's been a problem since her first visit at 18 months of age.) Doesn't he know that by now?  Good grief, why would he propose to me at the beach?!"

Her sisters (who had already been clued in) responded in reassuring tones.  "A beach proposal would be romantic, Kristin.  We can even go out and arrange shells for you guys.  They would spell out 'Marry Me, Kristin!'  Don't you like that idea?"

(Oh, how siblings torture one another!)

When she told me of her suspicions, I calmly pointed out that the possibility of Cody obtaining a ring by that time was pretty slim.  "It usually takes several days to have one sized.  And if he's designing it, that will be weeks!"

She pondered this - and Bought It.  (As we say in the South....... "Hook. Line. And Sinker!")

"Yeah, I guess you're right!" she sounded a little more hopeful.

On Saturday, we all went to have our nails done for Easter Sunday.  Meagan and Joy came to the house to help with Kristin's hair and make-up for the big date. They started snapping pictures and talking about what it would be like when she got engaged.

The anxiety about a sand-covered proposal returned.

Kristin looked right at Joy (who has never been able to lie) and asked, "Joy!  Is Cody proposing tonight?!"  Joy looked away and shrugged her shoulders.  Kristin howled!

Joy's honesty was the give away in Kristin's thinking.  Cody would propose.  Tonight.  On some sandy stretch of beach.

(Please bear in mind that all this time the sisters are completely aware that the proposal is scheduled for sunrise tomorrow morning.  They were simply fulfilling their part in helping Cody convince her that the ring was on its way in a seaweed wrapped shell.)

The date was perfect!

A fabulous new restaurant in Tampa.  Wonderful food.  Great music.  A boardwalk leading to a lovely gazebo over-looking the water.  Kristin caught her breath several times during the evening thinking, "Oh, here it comes!"

But each opportunity passed with Cody simply returning her puzzled expressions with a smile.

Torture!  Sheer Torture!

When they arrived home, she gave him a quick (rather cold) kiss good-night and went straight to her room.  Cody lingered just a moment by the front door.  When her door clicked shut, he gave a silent little victory dance and fist pump of joy.  We all mimed congratulations to one another and then aloud said good-night.

She woke the next morning at 4:30 to help me get ready for Sunrise Service.  Everyone was to be at our table at 6:00 AM.  Completely dressed and ready for church.  Absolutely No Exceptions!! ( John and Nathan helped play up that element.)

As she ran the vacuum one last time, we talked about her date from the evening before.  "I just knew he was getting ready to propose all through the evening, Mom.  And I don't mind telling you I was pretty upset with him by the time it was over!  I mean, REALLY??!"

I nodded sympathetically.

"Then this morning the Lord reminded me how patiently Cody has been waiting!  I guess I can wait a few weeks myself, right?  But I'll tell you right now, Jesus is going to have to help me!!"  Her exasperation was literal.

At 5:50 everyone else began to arrive and the volume increased greatly.  Bowls and platters moving from the kitchen to the table.  (In our wonderful new dining room!)  High chairs scrapping.  Voices excited and ready to begin.  Everyone knew what was coming, except Kristin and the babies.

"Let's open the windows so it really feels like we're outside," someone suggested (on cue).  "That's a great idea!"  All the windows were opened and the cooler air rushed in.

As soon as everyone was seated, Frank began reading the Easter story.  Then we launched into the traditional Easter songs we save mostly for that one day.  He Lives.   Alive for Evermore.  Up from the Grave He Arose.  (Which Spencer and Abby had learned for the occasion.)

"Today we're going to begin a new tradition," Frank moved forward smoothly.  "Mom and I want to read a scripture blessing over each family.  And Kristin, we have one for you as well since you'll probably be a family at some point this year."  Everyone chuckled and smiled.

(This "new tradition" was Cody's suggestion.  Kristin had no way of knowing but Cody was at that moment standing just outside the door listening through the open windows to everything.)

Dad read the passage we'd chosen for the Smith family.  Meagan snapped a picture of Noah.

"Honey," I said.  "you may want to speak up so we can all hear you over the babies."  Frank tends to get a softer voice when reading directly to someone.  I knew Cody probably couldn't hear him.

He cleared his throat and went on to read the scripture for the Schreck family, a little more loudly.  They smiled for Meagan's camera.  She then (very naturally) focused the lens on Kristin.

Dad began reading slowly and purposefully from I Corinthians 13.  (Cody's chosen verses.) ", hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.  So always keep your heart open for when love opens the door."

On cue, the door opened.  (Of course, we had reseated everyone so Kristin would be facing the door.)  And in walked a tall, dark handsome young man looking dapper in his Easter suit and tie.

She smiled; still completely unaware of what was unfolding around her.  "Hi, Babe.  What are you doing here?"

Cody continued forward without a word.  Then she caught sight of the ring box in his hand.

The squealing and tears were almost immediate!

Cody knelt in front of her.  The camera clicked.  We all beamed.

"Are you going to do this right now?!"  she exclaimed.

"Yes!"  his response was certain.  "Are you ready?"

His well rehearsed words held great meaning for them both.  He used her full name.  She swiped frantically at tears trying to take in the wonder of the moment.

He concluded with the all important line, "Will you marry me?"

"Yes!  Yes!  Oh my goodness, YES!"  She jumped up and wrapped her arms around his neck while apologizing for wiping her nose on his sleeve.  Meagan moved silently; catching every look.  We all sat with faces frozen in huge smiles.

It was an absolutely Perfect Proposal!!

A story they will both enjoy telling well after their fiftieth anniversary!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Proposal (Part 1)

(TODAY IT IS! The long awaited story of Cody's proposal of marriage to Kristin!  Grab a cup of tea -and perhaps a biscuit- definitely a tissue.  And please bear in mind that while I make every attempt to share multiple perspectives when writing, this is my blog.   So the story will be my version.  That's the best I can offer!  Also, I found it impossible to record the entire story in just one post.  This will have two parts.  But worth the read, I promise!)

April 20, 2014 will forever be a benchmark day for Cody McGhee.  It's the day that Kristin Hawley agreed to be his wife! 

Their courtship has been long; with many twists and turns.  In February, Cody was asked by one of our guest speakers how long he had been pursuing Kristin.  Cody hit an app on his phone and said,  "1,163 days, sir!" 

"Well young man," gasped Dr. Trask.  "What are you waiting for?!!"

In reality, Cody was patiently waiting for the same thing John and Nathan waited for - the right time.  It just recently came to me that each of the men who've wanted to make a Hawley girl their wife has had to wait patiently. 

John knew Joy was supposed to be his but they waited almost two years in order to put degrees behind their names before putting Mr. and Mrs. in front.  (They met while touring with the choir of Southeastern University.  John, the confident pianist.  Joy, the adorable alto.) 

Nathan and Meagan first dated in high school!  They both cared very deeply for one another even then but it would be six years before Nathan completed college.  So they went their separate ways for a while. 

I remember Meagan lamenting to me during her sophomore year, "I've tried to date, Mom.  But I find myself comparing every guy to Nathan!  And none of them measures up!"

Cody became part of the young adults group at our church five years ago.  He was a handsome young man on the fast track toward success!  With charm and a quick wit, he seemed to win every heart.  His walk with the Lord began a slow, steady growth pattern that continues even now.

He and Kristin were aware of one another right away, but mostly because they irritated one another incessantly!

I won't give the recap of all 1,163 days of the pursuit.  But I will tell you that waiting doesn't hurt any of us if we choose to make the most of waiting times!  (Now that'll preach!) 

To his credit, Cody has taken this time to study and learn Kristin.  He knows her likes/dislikes; her quirky ways; her favorite food, flower, stores, movies; what makes her laugh and what makes her cry.
He has a masters degree in Kristin Nicole Hawley!

That's why his original plan for the proposal seemed perfect. 

This summer we will be taking a team of people to Padova, Italy for ten days of ministry with an international church.  We'll be conducting Vacation Bible School each morning and working with the English students in the afternoons.  They've planned outreaches in the piazza; evangelistic services; and canvassing along with several other ministry ventures.

We are so honored to be going!

On the one day we have free, the missionaries will be taking us to visit Venice.  This is a lifetime dream for Kristin especially.  And, of course, Cody knows that!

When he talked with Frank about asking about an appointment to talk with him about asking for her hand in marriage, (yes that's really how it happened) he shared his initial plan.

"I can't go on this missions trip because of my work schedule.  But I want to buy a plane ticket and fly over there for the day that the team is in Venice.  When Kristin gets to the place where the gondolas are, I'll be waiting there and have the ring ready.  I want to propose to her in Venice while riding on a gondola!"

WHAT??!!!  Such a brilliant, romantic, over-the-top, fabulous plan!  One small problem - Kristin has also always wanted to get married in the fall of the year.

At thirty-one, I didn't think she would want to wait until the fall of 2015.  And there wasn't any way in the world I was going to try and help put together her wedding in two months!!  We would all be looney!

So, it was back to the drawing board.  This proposal had to be perfect, in Cody's thinking. 

The per-requisites?  For Cody:  She had to be surprised!  He had to be the one to plan it!  It had to make a great story she would love telling for years to come!  For Kristin: She wanted her nails done and make-up on.  (No pictures for Facebook looking ridiculous.)

And I'm here to testify - every desire was met beyond what the precious couple could have thought or planned.  That's just the way our Heavenly Father likes to work it!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Front Door Joy

I'm so very glad to be HOME!

No joke!  I walked in through my own front door yesterday and just beamed! 

Travel has been a big part of my life the past four weeks.  Couples retreat in Delaware.  Women's retreat in Ohio.  Minister's conference in Jacksonville.

I love traveling......meeting friends new and old; seeing the sights; experiencing God's presence in different venues.  But I also love coming home! 

In fact, being away usually helps us appreciate home even more.  Isn't that true for you as well?

Bella and Gracie (the four-legged children) danced as Frank and I came in yesterday.  They had been well cared for.  But nobody pets them like "Mom" and "Dad."  Such Joy!

We had already received texts and phone calls from the real children saying, "Time to come home now!"  They even went so far as to pull out the BIG guns - they put the grandbabies on the phone!

Frank and I had the bags packed and ready to load as soon as our meetings ended!  The rain poured and the winds blew (that's not poetic; it's real) but we drove on without slowing down.  Hugs and kisses were waiting!  Such Joy!

We made it back to Winter Haven around 2 PM.  But appointments and phone calls kept us from actually collecting on the baby kisses.

Of course, we were still pretty happy.  The final appointment was at the bridal salon and we got to see Kristin try on a beautiful wedding gown,

The tears in Dad's eyes were the ones that always appear when one of his little girls steps out of the dressing room in the gown of her dreams.  Even if that little girl is thirty-one years old.  Tears of such JOY!

I know that I still owe you all the story of Kristin's engagement.  I know I'm late wishing each of you a Happy Mother's Day. 

But the joy of walking in our front door yesterday and then watching the sunrise over our back yard this morning seemed like an important, albeit quick reminder -

The best view is the one out our own front door! Such Joy!

The engagement story is on the schedule for writing tomorrow!  You'll catch yourself smiling as you read it, I promise.  Please check back in then......thanks for your patience!