On January 25, 2016, I wrote in my journal that for some strange reason I couldn't explain, I felt like Aaron might one day be my husband.
On November 11, 2016, Aaron asked me to be his wife.
WHAT! I know. Crazy, right? This year, let me tell you. It has been nothing I could have ever imagined - more than I ever knew to how to ask for from God. And needless to say, the last two weeks have been especially exciting and highly emotional. Like even right now, I just feel a little bit like crying and I don’t know why!
But before we get to the proposal, I just have to back up so that I can always, always remember the way those two weeks transpired. Because just over a week ago Aaron proposed to me, but a week before that he surprised me by even coming to Nebraska in the first place! Aaron and I last saw each other in August when he came home for a couple of weeks and then the next time we planned to see each other was this December when I fly out to Hawaii after Christmas. We were patiently (and some days, not so patiently) counting down the days to when we could actually be together and not just stare at each other’s faces through our phone screens. If you don't know, the time difference between Nebraska and Hawaii is, most of the year, five hours. So we are at completely different points in our day ALL OF THE TIME. I know there are more difficult relationship hurdles, but trust me, this is not ideal... unless you're trying to surprise your girlfriend by flying across the ocean overnight.
The day Aaron surprised me by showing up at my office, I was under the impression that he would be getting up early to go boogie boarding with his brother-in-law. This seemed exactly zero percent suspicious to me. They had planned it for over a week and I assumed that I wouldn’t talk to Aaron until after he got to work that day, which was 1 pm central time.
Just after 1:00, Aaron sent me a message to let me know that he made it to work. We talked briefly before he said he had to head off to a meeting at work that “shouldn’t be more than an hour.” Meanwhile, Heath (his brother-in-law) posted a photo of Aaron on Instagram that appeared to be Aaron heading into the water, boogie board in hand. See?
The afternoon went on and I didn't talk to Aaron too much. He got out of his "meeting" (which I later found out was a flight from Minneapolis to Omaha) but he kept telling me what a busy day it was at work and that there were some urgent things to get done. Late in the afternoon my own boss called me into a meeting. I had been sick for the entire week, even stayed home from work for two days and still barely had my voice back, so when I'm sitting in the meeting and started to feel like I might cough, I had a minor panic attack because I knew it wouldn’t be a dainty little throat-clearing. So I excused myself and headed back to my desk and I’ll just let the video tell the rest of the story.
So, Aaron pulled off an epic surprise! People keep asking, "Did you have any idea?" None. He worked with my family, my boss, my friends and his family to make sure I had no idea he was coming to Nebraska for my birthday. It was amazing! I still don’t really have words for how I felt when I turned around and he was there in my office! A moment I will never forget.
The rest of the week was really normal. We talked about what we might do for my birthday, made dinners together, spent time with family, and since I had no vacation time, I went to work and he met me downtown each day for my hour lunch break. I mean, how sweet is he? Yikes. I don’t know if I have the words.
On that Friday morning, the day he proposed, Aaron brought me coffee.
"Oh, babe! It's 11/11," he said. "Make a wish." He acted like he just realized the date, but this was his whole plan, you guys. Don't let him fool you.
He doesn't know this but I didn't make a wish. I just said a silent thank you, being ever grateful for this sweet man who made me feel so special.
That morning I went to work thinking it was just another day where he would meet me for lunch, but when lunchtime rolled around and I hadn’t really heard from him, I sent him a text and asked if he was coming. His response was to ask if my boss was still in the office. "Yes?"
Apparently he had already talked to my boss that morning (AGAIN!) and worked it out with her for me to leave even though we were short-staffed and it was a super busy time of year for us. What a dreamboat! Jailbreak from work for a super delicious birthday lunch? Yes please! So we head to lunch and when he keeps checking his watch, I ask if we’re in a rush and he says we have somewhere to be at 1:30 but wouldn’t tell me where we were headed. Eeek! Can you tell that he loves a good surprise?
Next thing I know, we arrive at a spa where he says I’m getting a manicure, pedicure and a massage. WHAT! I started crying as we waited for my appointment. I have never, in the history of Lyndi, dated someone who I felt like remembered or cared about my birthday. Honestly, one guy waited until 11 pm to even acknowledge that it was my birthday and the guy before that never said anything. (Wow, hi, my name is Lyndi and I don’t know how to get a clue. *Hiiiiii Lyndi*)
So Aaron leaves me at the spa and says he will pick me up at 5:00 when my appointments are over. I spent the next three hours in the lap of luxury.
Clearly, I was having a terrible time.
By this point I had added to my Snapchat story several times and a few friends were snapping me back with things like “WHAT! Nails done? You’re totally getting engaged.” I denied it and really, truly believed myself. Getting engaged was maybe 1-2% on my radar. Do radars work in percents? Maybe. Anyway, I told them I wasn’t and this was just all for my birthday! Of course it was! It was birthday weekend!
My massage finished up and I head out to the reception area to see if Aaron was back yet, but the woman at the counter handed me my car keys. "These are for you!" she said, smiling. I walk out to my car to find this:
I mean, is this a dream? When I was telling the cute girl who did my nails the story of how Aaron surprised me by showing up in Nebraska she said, “Wow, I feel like that kind of stuff only happens in the movies.” And I’m sitting there like, “RIGHT?!”
Now I’m in my car with a bunch of roses and the sweetest card that says to go home and get ready for dinner where attire is “fancy to fancy-schmancy.” So I head home to shower and get ready and next was a flurry of texts between my mom and sisters as they helped me decide what to wear. I'm still amazed at how casual everyone acted at every point in all these surprises. Oscars for everyone!
When Aaron arrived and I opened the door to see him standing there I about melted into a Lyndi-puddle. He was wearing a new shirt and tie and a new leather coat and ohmygosh. Dead. The only thing I had in my head was, “Wow. Best birthday ever.” As we're walking out the door, my sister texted and said she wanted a picture of us together, and because we're the sassy people we are, we sent her this one:
So we go to dinner and talk and laugh a lot over crab cakes and wine and steak and salmon. Aaron and I have never had a problem coming up with things to talk about and this dinner was mostly just reminiscing on the last year of our lives from my last birthday to this one and how much had changed. At one point, it was also almost about my literal death, because I choked so hard on a potato that I was one half of a second from needing the Heimlich. I don’t try to cause a scene *everywhere* I go, but I like to keep it interesting, you know?
So we both live through dinner and to my knowledge we are headed back to my apartment, until Aaron takes a different street and we wind up in our church parking lot. I thought we were possibly showing up at a surprise birthday party? I didn't know. That was the only thought in my head on this day full of complete surprises.
Aaron told me previously that he first saw me when he was in high school. As he tells it, he was too shy to talk to girls and I was “a tornado.” I still don’t know what he means by that since I’m so quiet and shy and introverted, but maybe I’ll figure it out someday. So Aaron pulls up next to the building on our church campus where he saw me and retells the story of his first sighting and then we walk toward the main building of our church. I said, “Babe, these doors are going to be locked,” just as he magically pulls open the far left door. Do the surprises ever end?
At this point I was still oblivious. I thought we were maybe going for a post-dinner coffee in the coffee shop where I work but rather than up the stairs to the shop, he leads me into the main auditorium. The lights were low except for the stage. He walks me down the aisle where I usually sit for church. This also happens to be the place of our very first face-to-face conversation last November. “Remember when I came down and talked to you and your friends?” “Uh, yeah, and I thought you were SO CUTE!” I really did. He was and is so stinkin’ cute.
Aaron walked us both down the aisle and up to the main stage. It was at this point, and ONLY at this point, that I was finally thinking, “Wait… is this?... is he?...” He was holding me close and smiling so sweetly and I wish I could remember what he said but I remember thinking, “Oh, this is happening, wow, this thing that I never ever ever thought would happen is happening right this minute. Be here now. Hold on to this very moment that you never thought would come.”
And then I wept.
When Aaron came into my life more fully earlier this year, it was like my heart started to wake up and dream again about what it might be like to not live my whole life alone. Throughout our relationship I really felt God pushing me and asking me to take these next steps in a relationship with him even though it was scary for me. My relationship history is riddled with some trial and lots of error because I had no understanding of myself and God's plan for me. But over the last year, each of us kept taking baby steps forward as we felt led and, gosh, has it been so worth it.
Last Sunday night, the church I go to had a celebration service for the fact that we are now completely debt-free for the first time in 53 years. One of the quotes I read in the program for the evening was, “Where there is no risk, there is no faith.” Isn’t that so true? Where you’re so comfortable and sitting inside your little circle of safety, your faith isn’t required. There won’t be moments when you’re hanging on by a fingernail and yelling for God to show up because why would you need him when you’re cozy and comfortable and safe?
Relationship involves risk. There is always risk when you’re saying to another person, “Yes, I’m with you, whatever comes.” What if they break your heart? But what if they add more joy than you ever knew possible? Aaron and I had previously talked about our fears in relationship and marriage and I asked him about that after we got engaged and he said, "Sometimes you just have to do it afraid." Which, wouldn't you know, has been my own motto for years as I walked through my own scary things. "Where there is no risk, there is no faith."
Our friends and our family have celebrated us so well these last couple of weeks and we just want to say thank you. We're excited for the faith journey that this will be together and the way we will be led to take the next steps forward in our relationship, which we have always felt to be of God and for him.
A lot of people have recently reminded me how I used to say I would get married on the 1st of Never. I get it, I was annoying in the refrain I taught myself to believe. But, wouldn't you know, I guess 'Never' finally rolled around. What a dream.