One weekend on a trip home for my twenty first birthday, Josh took me out on a date to celebrate. He elaborately planned for us to relive our firsts: First date – dinner at Logan’s Steakhouse. I felt like this was a little lame for my twenty first birthday. Then he had procured our church theatre through connections in the right places so that we could watch The Sixth Sense all over again – just the two of us. Then he drove us out to Toledo Bend, to that very same dock – where we danced and talked and generally floated on a cloud of bliss.
Back then, I wasn’t so great at bliss. I tended to control the life right out of it. I’m not perfect at it now, but I’ve learned so much about control – that I never really had any to begin with and even if I did, there’s not a whole lot of joy or adventure in holding things so tightly anyway. So, on the way back to the car – thoroughly annoyed that Josh hadn’t proposed in such a beautiful, perfect setting – I mentioned that this really would have been the perfect spot for him to pop the question. Josh through raised eyebrows and in a slightly annoyed voice said, “Sorry.” I tried to laugh it off and then got very carsick on the way home. So lovely.
He still proposed…homey really loved me.
Then he pulled back up to the church – our church – the church where we’d grown together, spent so, so many hours together, identified essential common interests for any thriving relationship – common interests and convictions like faith and family and God’s good, good Word. And also the place where we played wildly as children, really – silly and free and safe. Our foundation was laid there in so many ways both as individuals and as a couple. Of course he took me back to Calvary.
We walked into the sanctuary that was lit only by candle light on the stage. Josh got down on one knee on the stage where we had worshipped over and over and over again and asked me to be his wife. He said a lot of sweet things, all of which we have on video thanks to Jacob Upshaw and his gang – but the thing that I remember most is this, “If I serve you and you serve me and we serve God, we will have a good, happy life.”
I squealed emphatically, clicking my little kitten heels all over the stage wildly, unable to bridle the sheer joy that coursed through every vein in my blissfully naive twenty one year old body. This man – heaven help me – this man – he was finally going to be mine and I his forever and ever. It was truly a spectacular dream.
Let it be noted that Josh can pull out some serious romantic big guns when he wants to.
We were engaged and our senior year generally just flew by from that moment on. There were a few little hiccups here and there, of course. Like when Josh forgot to show up for my Senior English Project Presentation – the thing I spent the entirety of my last semester of college (okay, okay – the last 3 weeks…tops) working on. It was kind of a big deal. It was a Pass/Fail sort of thing – and I needed to pass to get my degree. I arrived back at my house to find him sitting on my couch with flowers. He’d forgotten. Oh what a foreshadowing that was of things to come.
There was one significant fight just a month before we got married. I grew up with an explosive temper that only tortured the people in my immediate family. By this point, I had mostly learned to control it by removing myself from the situation until I could chill the stink out. So, Josh and I were moving our stuff into our new apartment about a month before the wedding. We had never really had to work together on anything. Our lives were so separate in so many ways that working with one another on projects and life in general was new for us. Thus – moving did not go so well that first time around. Clearly God wanted to teach us a thorough lesson about being good at moving together because we have found ourselves doing it rather often! I found myself on the verge of a full on ballistic yelling show. So, I got in the car and went for a drive. It’s what I did. Josh was appalled. Appalled I tell you. He thought that this was a sign that I was a runner. He even brought it up in our pre-marital counseling during which I received a literal slap on the hand for my actions. I hold to this day that my stepping away for a bit was a grand gift, a highly protective act of love. Twelve years later, Josh would likely say the same.
Our wedding was lovely and meaningful and terribly fun. I loved planning it. I loved the ceremony. I loved seeing Josh standing at the end of the aisle. I loved our officiant, Jack, because he and his family knew and loved us both so very well. He married us, and he was rooting for us – and he’s proved it over and again all these years later. Like the proposal, I don’t remember a lot of what Jack said in his message except these two things (my paraphrase):
- Emily, Josh loves you. He will never intentionally hurt you with his words or actions. Trust him.
- Josh, Emily has big plans for this family. She wants to see God move and work through it. Listen to her.
And to this day, those two things can nearly dissolve any argument. Trust him. Listen to her. Gosh, I needed to remember them tonight.
Next week come back to read about Josh’s call into ministry, how I responded to it, and how it all shifted the course of our life! Click here to read our story from the beginning.