I remember in church, a preacher saying, when you go to the Lord in prayer, be specific. I had gotten to a place in my life where I wanted a long term relationship that would lead to more. So in 2002, I locked myself in my bedroom and had a heartfelt, real conversation with God, asking for specifics in what I wanted in a woman. The Word is true when it says “ask and you shall receive (Matt. 7:7)” because He packaged up and delivered from Pittsburgh everything I wanted, needed and then some right in the beginning of 2003.
After suavely introducing myself…yeah right…I almost missed out on Carrie because the first couple of times we met, we did not get along, nor like one another. I had the opportunity to get to know how awesome Carrie was when we both volunteered to work in the youth ministry at the church we were attending at the time. Under the guise of being friends, I asked her out to dinner. Usually I’m calm and have every detail well planned out, but this night I was flustered and didn’t know what to do. All I know is that while we were having dinner I didn’t want the night to end. So after we ate, I took her to get coffee, then to Borders Bookstore to browse for music and books, then to the Rolls Royce Bentley dealership to look at cars. I was trying anything to make the night continue. I must have done a pretty good job at impressing her because we dated for several years. Somewhere along the way, though, I must have lost my mind because we broke up for about two years.
I eventually “came to myself”, got my mind right and made the faithful phone call in March of 2011 and left her a birthday voice mail that set everything in motion. We got back together and I was so happy (think Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch, happy). I knew that I was with the woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and I was ready to make that happen. By the following year, we were happily engaged!
It’s been a long time coming and something I should have done years ago. The adage,”patience is a virtue” comes to mind, because after dating for what seems like forever, marriage feels so right.
Finally the day was here after about ten months of preparation, dodging questions, and running around the streets of Houston. I had made reservations three months in advance for the private wine room at the restaurant Quattro, in the Four Seasons. I had explained to Carrie that we would be celebrating our anniversary so she would be sure to get her hair and makeup done. This is nothing out of the ordinary for us, and I did it for two reasons. First, I didn’t want her to suspect anything, and second I knew better than to propose, have us taking pictures and she not be as ready as she would be if she knew we were doing something big. I am a quick learner!
I planned to pick her up and make our way to the Four Season’s that evening, but we all know the saying about the best laid plans. Carrie’s makeup appointment started late because she got off of work late and she was running behind schedule. I then thought it might be easier to just pick her up from her artist’s loft downtown to save some time. Wouldn’t you know my GPS took me to the incorrect address which led me to a piece of Houston highway that doesn’t even exist!! Thankfully, I tend to have a cool, calm demeanor and not too many things excite or frazzle me. I have also heard stories about women thinking something was up because of the guy’s out of the ordinary nervousness, so I did my best to “keep calm and carry on.” Carrie and I agreed to meet at a familiar spot downtown so we could ride together to the restaurant, but even that gets mixed up because she thought she was supposed to walk over to me and my car, when in fact it was the other way around. By then my cool demeanor is beginning to crack and I am upset that we could possibly be late for our dinner reservations. When Carrie gets in the car we almost have an argument because of what was happening, but thank God that we both allowed level heads to prevail. We both knew how special the day was (me more than her at this point!) and how there was so much effort on both sides to make the other person happy. We finally get to Quattro, made it to the private wine room and began looking over the menu. Carrie then excused herself to go to the restroom. This is a potential issue because she had no idea I had her parents and my parents arriving 15 minutes after us to have dinner with each other and be the first to congratulate us after the proposal was done! Thank God for the staff at Quattro because our waiter and the hostesses saw our parents coming out of the elevator and Carrie coming out of the restaurant and they quickly rushed over to the parents and ushered them to a corner were she passed by and did not see them. Phew!
The rest of dinner went on without any more issues. Throughout the dinner, I had been asking our waiter to take a lot of pictures of us in order to throw Carrie off. When we finished having dinner and dessert I gave her a gift to further perpetuate that this was only an anniversary dinner. When we got up to leave, I knew what was to come, and my calm demeanor completely abandoned me and went right out the door. I started stuttering and fumbled with my phone trying to give it to the waiter to take one more picture of us. All of a sudden it felt like a sauna in that climate controlled wine room! I walked Carrie to the front edge of the table posed for a picture and then got down on one knee. Carrie looked at me in bewilderment and said “are you for real”? I took her hand into my now clammy hand and said: “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life and it never was quite right. I feel so in tune with the Lord and with you, that the present and the future look bright. I am confidently and boldly ready to take it on. Carrie, you made me a better man by encouraging me, supporting me and above all loving me. Carrie Howard will you please do me the honor of being my wife?” With the biggest smile she said YES!!! Our waiter handed us two glasses of champagne and the entire waitstaff came in and applauded and congratulated us. I told Carrie I had another surprise for her. We then made our way out of the wine room to the main restaurant where our parents were wrapping up their dinner and allowed them to be the first to congratulate and celebrate with us. After spending 20-30 minutes with them I told Carrie I had yet one final surprise for her. We then drove to Alden’s *17 Restaurant where I had a group of our closest friends and siblings waiting to surprise and congratulate her.