- Austin Perry "Conan" O'neal
i obviously haven't spent the last month blogging... but i still refuse to throw in the towel on this thing.
much has been happening in "my" world (school, church/ministry, etc.) but the most noteworthy is that i got engaged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my now fiancée, danielle, has been jokingly busting my chops for some time about never dedicating an entire blog post to her. so, in more than one way, this post has been a long time coming!
i can't believe, after so many years of singleness, i'm going to get married! and to someone so amazing, at that. danielle is beautiful, inside and out. she's funny, smart and passionate about life and the Gospel. she loves Christ and ministry and is a great student and teacher of God's Word. her smile lights up a room and her laugh lights up my heart. i could, and probably should keep going, but i'll save more praises for a later time.
danielle and i have been dating for almost a year now and have been friends for a few more than that. this may come across as crazy, but when i decided to date her, i decided to marry her (if she and her parents would have me!). this decision was reached after coming through some less than ideal circumstances and poor decisions on my part. some of those decisions deeply hurt danielle and others and, while i can't change the past that i am still sorry for, i am extremely grateful for the grace and forgiveness i've been shown.
fast forward to the past couple of months: danielle and i had been discussing marriage and what kind of timeline might be unfolding before us, so because we are rarely in the same town, i knew when she would probably be expecting a proposal.
i also know she likes surprises, so i was left with the task of figuring out how to surprise her while we're in the same town... which naturally led me to a plan that would put us in the same town when she wasn't expecting to be.
so, i arranged to go up to dallas and propose the night before she was supposed to come to houston for her fall break. a lot of things had to fall together for this to happen, namely, obtaining the ring! i won't go into details about that, but i didn't have the ring in hand until TWO days before i flew to dallas to propose...
so, i had made arrangements with my friend to pick me up from the airport while she was in class/at work. the morning of, i find out my flight is canceled! yep, of ALL the HOURLY flights from houston to dallas, mine was the only one that got canceled! and they only offered me two alternative flights, one of which wouldn't work. so, stress level got turned up a few notches. this new flight wouldn't allow my friend to pick me up and i didn't know if her roommates (i had them on back-up notice) would be available either. PLUS, if danielle got the crazy idea of skipping her thursday night class (which she never does) and coming home early, she potentially wouldn't be in town when i got there! because i started to worry about this scenario earlier in the week, i had her roommates come up with an outing that danielle could look forward to after her class and would stay in town for.
ok, so the flight worked out fine and the plan was underway. danielle was scheduled to be in class until 7:45 p.m. at which point i would be waiting for her at the bottom of the hill she usually walks down. i knew the jig would be up as soon as she saw me, so i didn't plan some extravagant scavenger hunt or drawn out process. i just didn't want the element of surprise to be lost (even though it almost was).* instead i would just walk her over to a nearby pond and propose there. her roommates were LIFE SAVERS in that they made "the spot" look AMAZING. see for yourself:
anyway, i'm waiting at the hill she's supposed to come walking down and she keeps not coming! eventually her roommates, who have been guarding the spot, call me and say she had to go to the computer lab for class and would be coming a different way. "no problem," i thought. "except it's not as visually stunning as me waiting at the bottom of a hill." probably better this way, though, so danielle wouldn't risk falling down the stairs trying to get to me. (i don't say this like i'm so desirable she'd recklessly charge at me, but because she has admitted to me that she has fallen up and down the steps of this hill before, ha!)
so i head over to her town home and wait for her there. moments later she comes walking up. awkwardly, there is a really bright light behind her, so i'm not sure it's her until she's pretty close. because of this, i was standing there trying to look happy if it was her but not creepy if it wasn't! she's less than comfortable because she's in high heeled boots (i think that's what they're called) that she got dolled up in for her girls' night out and just walked the entire campus, basically.
she takes a moment to drop off her stuff (and change her shoes) and then comes back out. when we started dating last fall, i got really intentional about pursuing her after being close friends for a long time. danielle asked me back then what made me decide to do so and i told her that maybe i'd tell her someday.
so that's how i started the conversation as we walked over to "the spot." i said "you asked me how i came to that decision, and tonight i want to tell you." i also played make you feel my love by adele on my handy dandy smart phone. i knew she loved this song and thought it would crank up the romance of the moment, heh.
so we're walking and i'm going through my "planned-but-not-scripted" proposal. we arrive at "the spot" but i start to get in my head about it (shocker to you that know me, i'm sure!) because the music is still playing. i'm thinking, "i can't stop talking before the song ends and i can't let the song end while i still have a ton to say!" so, some of the filler may not have been my most heartfelt sentiments, but alas!
the main idea i wanted to express to her was how i knew i wanted to marry her. they say, "when you know, you know." but to me that only made sense when i chose to commit. it was more like, "when you commit, you know." or "when you know, you commit." because i had such a peace and strong desire to commit to danielle, i knew. and i wanted her to know how i felt about committing to her, hopefully leaving no doubt in her mind about where i stood on spending forever with her.
so when the song eventually ended, i made it official by getting on a knee, presenting the ring and asking danielle if she'd marry me.
she said, "yes." in case you were wondering!
we then headed over to celebrate with her roomies, briefly, before heading to dinner at hattie's. we both made some crucial phone calls on the way, to let some folks know (i had to send a group text because my phone was dying.) then, the next day, i had surprise number two set up! danielle's bestest of best friends, marie, came down from oklahoma to celebrate with her! i knew this was a huge event that they'd want to celebrate and another surprise i could give danielle, so i'm glad it worked out! another friend was supposed to join us, but had to be somewhere else for a family emergency.
that night we all went to the state fair and had some engagement pictures taken by the great megan fortner.
saturday, we finally headed home to houston where we could celebrate with family! i definitely rearranged danielle's plans for fall break, but i don't think she minded too much.
*most of my wow factor was tied up in the element of surprise, so i was pretty nervous about preserving it. danielle and i usually exchange emails from work, but i knew on the day of the proposal i'd have to email her from my phone. only thing is, my phone emails don't have the same signature as my office computer emails. i didn't want this to look fishy that day, SO i started emailing danielle from my phone on monday of that week. BUT danielle didn't notice it early in the week and only noticed on the day of!!! she was already looking for the proposal, i guess, and her senses were heightened! apparently, she thought maybe i was coming into town to surprise her and kept going back and forth about it. it wasn't until her roommate texted her right before the proposal with "I'M HUUUNNNGGRRYYYY!!!!" that danielle was finally convinced i wasn't coming to dallas to propose! that's how dangerously the surprise hung in the balance and that's how easily the crisis was averted. my days of forethought were futile, ha!