i thought today that i'd share with you all the story of how my husband, Paul, and i met, and how he proposed...i know a lot of you have already heard/read this story, but there are some of you out there in blog world who have not...btw, this is the very long, more detailed version of what was on our wedding website...here goes:
Paul and I met sometime back in November of 2006, at the NCM (Northeast Campus Ministries – ULM) one night, which was my home away from home in college and where I first decided to become a true follower of Christ. Paul and I had not met at the NCM before because he started attending the month after I left for seminary in Kentucky. Although neither of us can place the exact date, I know it was then because I left him a comment and messaged him to talk sometime on Facebook. I thought it would be cool to talk about missions since it seemed we had that in common. Paul later admitted to me that he was taken aback at first because he was afraid I was “hitting” on him. When I came home from Kentucky (where I was for seminary) for a break, Paul and I spent a bit of time together in groups. This was really the first time I had ever been around him before, but I was curious as to who this person was. I remember one particular day that we were both studying out on the dock at the NCM, and that was when we got to know each other more.
We began talking on the phone and online after that, and we spent time together at the NCM around others. It was during this time that Paul says he started caring about me as more than a friend, but my feelings for him were only for friendship. I went back to Kentucky, but decided to come home again for Spring Break 2 weeks later. Before coming back home, Paul and I talked on the phone almost every day; he admitted how he felt about me, but I continued to push him away. I had made up my mind that I never wanted to be with another guy again (ha) after a bad relationship had just ended. I told him that I needed his friendship, but that was it. But when I came home for Spring Break, we spent more time together. I think I was starting to care about him more than I realized or more than I wanted to. I was only home for a week, and then went back to Kentucky again. Then, I flew home once more for my friend Erin’s wedding and my brother’s graduation. When Paul didn’t come to Erin’s wedding (his brother was married the same day), he had no idea how disappointed I was that I didn’t get to see him. However, we spent a little time together, and I went back to Kentucky to finish the semester. We continued to talk on the phone, and I was strangely looking forward to seeing him after the semester was over.
I was very ready to come home for the summer and to be very honest, excited about seeing Paul more than I expected. As soon as I got home though, Paul was gone to San Antonio, and I had to be in my friend Leslie's wedding. The night of the rehearsal dinner, Friday, May 11, Paul was getting to come home for one night before leaving again for 9 days for a training camp. I skipped the rehearsal dinner, on purpose, in order to go watch Pirates of the Caribbean 3 with Paul and our friends. I think it was then that I realized I cared about him a lot, but I still wouldn’t let myself feel much of anything because of fear. While he was gone, I missed him, and I enjoyed talking to him on the phone during his training time. Yet I was anxious and worried about what was going to come of us. I was planning to go on a mission trip to Mexico for 7 weeks and then return to Kentucky for the fall semester also. I started praying 24/7. After Paul got back from his training time, we spent many days together, sometimes even all day. It was a lot of fun, but I was still holding back a lot from him. Yet for some reason, we would stay up all night some nights talking on the phone, and I felt like I could share things with him that I hadn’t told anyone, or few people, before. That was very important to me, more than he knew.
There was one night we were together that I got a migraine headache, and it wouldn’t go away for almost a week. The migraine was so bad one day that I called Paul and called my mom while at school (I was teaching summer school), and I said that I needed to go to the hospital. I barely made it to Paul’s house, and he took me there right away. I had never been in that much pain in my entire life, yet Paul being there somehow soothed much of the pain away, just by his holding my hand (which I didn't object to). They gave me pain medicine, but I continued to hurt badly; no-one knew exactly what was wrong, and I was really upset because of not being able to leave for Mexico as planned. We had my back checked out and then my teeth, and the oral surgeon saw right away what the problem was. My mouth (teeth) had been causing all of the problems. I had to go into surgery, and Paul was right there with me; I was so scared, but once again, he calmed my fears. It was definitely at this time that I started allowing myself to feel more for him. I stayed doped up on drugs every day, and then I thought I wouldn’t be able to go to Mexico at all because my mouth didn’t seem to be healing. Paul was by my side constantly, taking care of me and spending time with me; I looked terrible most of the time and felt like it too, but he never left. My mom says that the only time he went home was to sleep, haha. I was starting to care for him very much and wanted him by my side all the time. By this point in time, we had been praying and talking for about 3 months.
My mouth was finally starting to feel normal again, but I was still worn out, tired, and emotionally exhausted. Then one night, July 8th, 2007, Paul and I were sitting on the couch at my parents’ house watching a movie; we made a big decision, but probably the best one of our lives. We were sitting really close and held hands, which I wanted to do really badly and so did he. We were talking and just kind of looked at each other and knew we wanted to be together. It was very sweet and innocent the way things just happened. On Saturday, July 14, 2007, Paul and I went on our first official date. It was wonderful, although we were both nervous. I honestly wanted this to be my last “first date.” He looked so cute though, and I tried so hard to look pretty for him…I even bought a new dress to wear. We had gone to Alexandria for his National Guard weekend and stayed with his friends Jeff and Danielle. He took me to one of my favorite restaurants, Johnny Carinos (this was a total surprise) and then to see the Harry Potter movie (more surprises)! It was a lot of fun, and a night I don’t think I’ll ever forget!
On July 17, I left for the mission trip to Mexico City, but only for a month. The night before, I was an emotional wreck. I didn't know how Paul and I would date while I was gone to Mexico, and then turn around and leave for Kentucky right after that. I told him that I thought we needed to take time out and pray while I was gone and not talk so much. This broke both of our hearts, but I thought I was doing was doing what was best for us both. The morning I left the airport, he didn't come to see me off, and I was even more heartbroken. But I did what I said I would do, and I prayed non-stop. There was one night in Mexico, after I had been fasting all day, that I told God I needed Him to make the decision for me. About 2 a.m., I sat straight up in bed and heard God telling me to listen (He does this quite often, so I wasn't shocked). He then spoke to my heart, telling me that Paul was the one He had chosen for me before I was born, and that we would do great things for Him together. I immediately called Paul after that, and he told me that God had been telling him the same things. I told him I didn't care what it took, that we would work it out with me being in Kentucky.
Right before leaving to come back home from Mexico, I recieved a phone call from the principal of the school I taught at in Kentucky. She told me that she would be emailing me my schedule for the coming year, and asked when I would be back to teach. I told her my plans and she said, okay. When I got home, I checked my email. The email I recieved explained that the school was cutting back on funding (it was a small private Christian school), and they no longer could pay to have a Spanish teacher (me) for the new year. They apologized, then said they were letting me go. I was heartbroken, because I loved this job and made enough money from it to pay for extra costs at seminary, although I had taken out loans for tuition. I knew that there was not enough time to find another job before going back to Kentucky, so I prayed long and hard about moving back home. I finally made the decision to take online classes and live back in Monroe. It was hard to stay here, but it was the right decision in the long run, especially for my relationship with Paul.
Of course, Paul and I spent every waking moment together from the minute I got back from Mexico. I knew that God had told me that I was going to marry this person, but I didn't know how soon that would actually take place! On September 21, he took me to see the play Footloose and then out to dinner. I actually thought for a small second that Paul might propose that night, but we were having so much fun that I wanted to think about being with him only. That weekend, we had planned on going on a retreat with the NCM. On Saturday morning, Paul had to work, and we decided to meet at the NCM around 12 noon. I went to the NCM, but by 1:00, I had not heard from him and was starting to wonder. I text-messaged him and finally heard back when he said that he had to stay at work a little longer than usual, but would be there soon. Then my friend Erin called me and asked if she could come to the NCM so we could pray together in the chapel about one of our other friends; I thought nothing of this and said of course. While we were in the NCM chapel praying, Paul had snuck inside without me knowing. I walked out of the chapel to find a dozen peach roses waiting for me, with a balloon that said “I Love You” attached. At the end of the balloon was a little handwritten note from Paul that said “Will you come pray with me? ♥” For a minute, I could not figure out where he was, until I looked outside. Behind the NCM, there is a beautiful bayou with a dock and gazebo, and this is where Paul and I first said hello to one another back in November. Paul was waiting out there, and he was on both of his knees praying. Sitting next to him was a bucket with clean water in it, and when I got closer to him, I saw a washcloth in his pocket. I knelt down beside him, and he prayed for our relationship in such a sweet way that I couldn’t breathe. Then he asked me to sit down, and he began taking off my shoes. I was not sure what he was doing at first, until he pulled the washcloth out and dipped it in the water. Then Paul began to remind me of how Jesus washed his disciples feet as an act of love and servant-hood as he washed my feet for me. It was beautiful, and I had tears in my eyes. Then Paul stopped, looked at me, and said “Sara, do you love me?” I of course said yes, and then he said “Do you love me enough to marry me?” I was stunned, but said yes. He then pulled out the ring box, opened it, and said “Will you be my wife?” I couldn’t speak, but finally I yelled “YES!”
We were married 6 months later, to the day, on March 22, 2008. Walking down the aisle and seeing him standing there, waiting to take my hand, was probably the most precious moment of my life. Now here we are, almost 4 months later, and even though things are about to change again in big ways, we are still happier today then ever before! I give Jesus Christ, our Savior, all of the credit and glory for every word written here, for if it were not for Him and His sacrifice of love, Paul and I would not be together.