Today is the anniversary of the day my husband proposed to me! I’ll never forget that hot day! (Above is one of our engagement pictures.) Earlier this year he wrote out our proposal story and submitted it to a contest that we became finalists for.
Here are two of the photos he took. See the story below for where these come into play. 🙂
by Michael C. Mayo
It was the middle of a Texas summer, 1998, as we headed south on State Road 377 from Fort Worth – for the second day in a row. With my bride-to-be in the passenger seat of my 1989 Honda Accord, sans air conditioning, I was determined this time not to make it all the way down to the cute little town of Granbury. With the windows down and the hot Texas wind – it was another 100 degree day in that record heat summer – trying to cool us down, I managed a placating conversation with my lady while my eyes and mind roved the countryside looking for “the spot.”
A year of dating, or latter events one could say, had finally led me to believe that the Lord was leading me to marry this lovely young lady. Young she was, at the still tender age of 26. I could not boast of such youth for I had now witnessed 35 birthdays. Her story in the Lord was different than mine. She had grown up in Texas, “walked the aisle” at a very young age and had steadily grown in her faith and relationship with the Lord God. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and, although in my youth had said the “sinner’s prayer” at the behest of the Baptist neighbor lady’s encouragement, the evidence of such a hoped-for conversion was wanting from that point through college. It wasn’t until my brother’s conversion and witness to me in the trendy Northside of the City, that I came squarely, face-to-face, with the Gospel and Jesus. My journey took me from Chicago to Delaware for work and then, after reading the book of Matthew on a dreary grey March morning, finally bowed the knee to Him and entered Life. Though growing tremendously in the faith and knowledge of the Lord, I remained largely a lone ranger Christian. On to Texas in late 1994, the journey continued as I pursued a new career of in law. With fresh environs, I was now determined to engage a church, Bible studies and any other fellowship of the believers the Lord would provide.
And provide He did. Immediately, I was attending two churches and in a Bible study. And a bonus came when the guy in the apartment below asked me, “want to go to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), there’s lots of cute girls there!” A quick, “I’m in,” was the only reply necessary and off we went for the Tuesday evening study. He was right, there were lots of cute girls there. But the study was remarkably serious and deep and so I stayed for 3 years. By the third year I had sifted out the cute girls from the committed, or should I say they sifted me out? In any event, the lady for me did not seem to appear and discouragement began to set in as this relatively new – but late blooming – believer. The pain seemed even deeper as my other single friends began to chatter about concepts like the “gift of singleness.” But then the Lord intervened right about then, as I turned to my left during the lecture portion of the study and noticed a young lady studiously taking notes. She had bright blonde hair and a beautiful profile face. Her hand and bare arm were lithe and delicate like her face, as I watched their determined movements with pen to paper. Wow! Who was this?
Immediately, I found a way to introduce myself and, after an awkward set of attempts to ask her out, she agreed to dinner in Grapevine. It was at that first dinner that my calculating mind had set her age at – could it be – nigh of a decade of mine? A deal-breaker, it would possibly seem. But she wasn’t as clever (or conniving) as I, and I was thus able to deflect from any admission of my lengthened age. It didn’t matter though. By the third date she declared that I was the one for her. That declaration would, however, prove to upset my pursuit some, as I wondered why such an attractive, pure and kind woman would want to marry me – an adult-come-to-Christ-believer, with a past. Nevertheless, the relationship flourished but after a year I still had doubts. Finally and ironically, it was my negligent treatment of her (missed a meeting with her two nights in a row – if you can believe it!) that caused my heart to break when I heard the hurt tone of her voice on my answering machine.
I knew then the Lord was calling me to marry this woman. I shopped rings on my lunch breaks, not caring how long the “lunch” lasted. I finally found an obscure diamond dealer in Keller and plopped down the big bucks for the beautiful token. Now…about the asking – how does one go about a proposal? I wasn’t short of words as you, kind reader, have come to learn. But I hadn’t ever done this before – thank God – and in my mind, it had to be done right. I knew I would never do the kid stuff – ring frozen in an ice cube in her drink, plane overhead with the trailing: “Miss X, will you marry me?” or the Jumbotron derivative. No, my proposal had to be with meaning, with ambiance, with the Lord’s blessing and, for sweet memory.
As I stalled the asking, my only solace was nightly staring at the brilliance of the ring. I loved that ring but alas, it was like a beautiful instrument never played. After attending a July afternoon wedding with my sweetheart, I was finally inspired to make my move. So off to Granbury we went (it was the closest and cutest little town I could think of). We drove in the square of the town and went out to dinner. She was beautiful and with a fine figure in her cute little shorts (it was July in Texas). Me? I was attempting to carry on conversation, while trying to imagine proposing in the busy little restaurant. No, that wouldn’t do. Afterward, we walked on the square, but nowhere was “the place.” The pragmatic side of me chastised: What’s the big deal, just ask her and now, in front of this monument! No, that just wasn’t me and she deserved something special – full stop. All right then, it was getting dark and it was over. The venture failed and so I drove her back to her apartment and said goodnight.
As I blasted myself all the way home and even shouted the word, “chicken” a few times, I vowed that I would not fail the very next day. And, I didn’t. We were attending church together in Fort Worth, so I knew I had the opportunity to ask her to lunch. She consented and I, now with a better but still vague plan, had grabbed Chinese take-out and instinctively headed again south on State Road 377 toward Granbury. But where shall I go? I couldn’t go back to the town, that didn’t seem to work. I finally scoped a gravel road off the highway leading up a hilly field of prairie grass and headed for it. “Is this private property?” I think I heard her question.
“Don’t worry about it,” I assured her, “this is fine. This will be a great place, um, to take some pictures of you.” Up on the hill, away from the highway we spread out a blanket and got the food ready. I had her pose here and there in the prairie and took those promised pictures. Now, the ring, where was the ring? Oh, yeah, still hidden in the car, I thought silently. “Um, I would like to read something from the Bible,” I said to her in truth but hopefully also as a screen. “Please open up to Proverbs 31, I, ah, left something in the car.”
Now back at the blanket, ring in pocket, Bible opened to Proverbs 31, the moment had arrived. The Lord it seems had ordained this initial rite of passage, where the two shall formally engage and then soon thereafter, become one. As I began to read the Proverb, my hands began to tremble and my voice, though usually loud and strong, began to falter. Tears began to fill my eyes, as they do now at the memory, some thirteen years later. I looked up at her face and saw the sweetest, compassionate smile unaffected by the tears running down her own cheeks. I knelt on my knees as I, amid uncontrollable emotion, managed the words: “Will you, Gena Kaye Boswell, before the witness of our Lord, marry me?” Her response was immediate and with a determined yet gentle air, “yes, my darling Michael Christopher Mayo, I will marry you.”
We embraced and I slipped the ring on her finger. It seemed to shine even more brightly in the hot Texas sun or, perhaps it was now resonating with its true keeper. Mission accomplished! A weight was off my heart – and hers, for she endured a year of uncertainty after her very early proclamation of commitment –as we dug into that food. The hundred degree heat had one silver lining: the food was still hot. This idyllic setting soon, though, was interrupted by the sound of a pick-up winding its way to us. An older woman pulled up, rolled down her window and said, “Do you know this is private property?”
“Um, yes, ma’am. I’m sorry, we’ll pack-up and leave,” I confessed. She took an extra look at the blanket, the food, the Bible and, more importantly, the beaming bride-to-be. She kind of motioned to the scene and smiled as she said, “well, ah, take your time, you can stay awhile. But not too long now, my husband will be back in the evening.” A third heart, it seems, was touched by the Lord on that hot, sunny day on the Texas prairie.