My Love Story~Chapter 27: Making Plans

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{It’s been 16 years to the day that I got engaged to my husband, and I thought it necessarily to crank out another chapter of My Love Story to commemorate the day. If you’ve missed the previous 26 chapters, Go HERE to get started! I’ve had so many kind reminders and nudges in the past 6 months to share the next chapter, and I truly am grateful that you care enough to hear! It’s a challenge to pore through my old journals, write from my heart, and scan “vintage” pictures, so to know there is a desire for more really helps! I’m so grateful I took on this project over 2 years ago, as it is a treasure for me to re-live, and now have it all typed out for my children, so THANK YOU!}

In the previous weeks, Matthew and I drove from Texas to Utah, started our last year of college in new apartments, and made a decision that we wanted to get married. With all of our ups and downs the 2 years before this point, we both felt complete peace in our relationship, and it felt so good. Never had I felt so confident in my feelings for someone, and now it wasn’t IF we would marry, but WHEN.

In early September 1999, Elder Richard G. Scott, an apostle, came to speak to the BYU students, and he shared about Having No Regrets. It was all about trusting ourselves, making decisions, and to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” {Proverbs 3:5-6} We were also given council by my Bishop at church to read the talk, Personal Revelation, so we read it together and discussed it.  Our relationship had truly been put through a test thus far, one where we each questioned what our head and hearts were telling us. We wantedg to do what was right, and needed to trust ourselves in making this big decision in life, on marriage.

Matthew confided that he was so afraid that I’d never be able to trust his feelings after all he’d put me through. I assured him that I needed it to truly know for myself, that he was who I wanted. I had relationship fears prior to him coming along, in my ability to love long term, and I truly felt like it was a blessing in disguise, and something I needed to happen, to truly know where my heart was. Those experiences shaped us, and led us to know for a surety that we wanted to be together. I told him I’d always seen him as solid and firm in his faith, wanting to do what was right, and I didn’t think less of him for that back and forth time he experienced. We decided to have a joint fast, and instead of petitioning our Father in Heaven to guide us in making this huge life decision, we were going to Him with the decision already made, and seeking for a confirmation of His blessing.

I got a call from a former roommate, Tamara, who now lived in Philadelphia. As I recounted to her the update on my situation, she was overjoyed to hear how happy and at peace I sounded. She’d known when I dated others previously, and knew of my fear in relationships. To hear from someone not familiar with the situation, but privy to my heart, really meant a lot to me. It was true, I did feel at peace.

Then next day, we decided was our day of fasting, as we sought divine inspiration in our decision making. We took a feast up into the mountains for a picnic lunch, then after we completed our meal, expressed a joint prayer, as we sought a spiritual confirmation that everything we were feeling was right. I think we both felt quite solid at that point, but needed this act of going to our Father in Heaven with our desires, and feeling an extra measure of peace that the decision we were making was what we hoped. Just needed that icing on the cake.  We felt on cloud nine, there was no doubt in our hearts that at the end of the fast, we would move forward as discussed. Being isolated in the beautiful changing leaves of the fall, we just wanted to stay there forever.  We couldn’t stop looking at each other and smiling.

going to get married

fall leaves in utah

As I laid in bed that night, attempting to drift off to sleep, I was giddy with excitement, with joy in my heart. He just GLOWED today, and I couldn’t believe this was really happening. I love him so much…we fit so perfectly…I feel so blessed.

After our 24 hour fast, we closed it with a meal. I wasn’t feeling 100% (girl stuff) combined with the fast and all the swirling of emotions, I was weak. We felt continued peace and happy in our decision, and that’s all that we hoped for from the fast. We had so much to talk about, but with college life, and him working, we didn’t get to spend much of the day together. We were even making goals to go to bed earlier each night. Before we parted ways that evening, he massaged my head from a massive headache I had. I woke up in the middle of the night with my head throbbing, and I started to cry, but that hurt too much. I rummaged for medicine, went to the couch, and all I could think was to call Matthew, so I did. One of his roommates woke him up. I felt guilty calling him, but his voice calmed me, and helped me to relax. I eventually fell back asleep, and was overjoyed when I woke up in the morning pain free. Matthew called to check on me, but I said I was going back to sleep, skipping my morning class, and I’d see him later.

ending our fastAfter a 3 hour study session in the library, a winning BYU football game, and a walk home sneaking kisses under trees, we talked about what date we would get married. He said April was much too far away, and that we should look at December. I was SO glad, because April was just too far away in my mind, too. As we got to my apartment, and discussed details amidst pure laughter and delight, we decided on December 17th in the Manti Temple. The number 7 is my favorite, and I was thrilled that it landed the day after our last finals. We discussed all that we needed to do in the next few days: go ring shopping, tell our friends, him talk to my dad…I felt butterflies in my stomach from the excitement, and shouted, “this is so amazing!” and he said, “you are amazing.” I kept saying, “We are GETTING MARRIED!”

We had this secret that we shared, not quite ready to tell anyone until it was officially official. On September 17th, just 3 months before the big day, I called the temple and got our date scheduled to be married at Noon. Being married in a temple is free, and with a short service, so there was no concern on getting the date we wanted. There is no planning or decorating that happens there, so prep for a temple wedding is not as big of an ordeal as a traditional wedding. We did have to find a venue for the dinner/reception that evening, and I was on the hunt for a quaint spot in Utah that would accomodate the close friends and family that would celebrate that day with us. Since we were living in Utah, but from Texas and California, our mom’s planned Open House receptions in our home states for the following weeks after.

Breathe….breathe…breath…I had to tell myself. I was so excited to tell Matthew that I reserved our spot, and he got equally thrilled. We were moving forward, and it felt so good.  I couldn’t help blabbing to Alayna and Emily the update, in our Moral Development class, which meant we really didn’t listen to the lecture from our professor that day. Since Alayna was married to my brother, and Emily was engaged, naturally our discussion turned to marriage, and the wedding night. I had great resources when it came to questions swirling in my mind. My newly married bestie, Natalie, was also on hand to answer any question I had, and I had a lot. So grateful for those girls in my life.

After class that day, Matthew and I got ready to go to his former roommates wedding reception. I took this picture of him perusing an art book in the reception hallway.

my manThat night, we talked about going to look at rings, and that he wanted my help in picking it out, which was great, because I wanted to help pick it out. I knew it would be a challenging task, because I had no clue what I wanted. I was not the person that had it all planned out, shape and cut, etc. I was kinda nervous that the task would be overwhelming.  After we danced the night away at the party, we went to the car and made a list of the things we needed to do ASAP:

#1 Get a ring

#2 Tell Everyone

We wanted to wait until we had a ring to tell everyone–so I felt that extra pressure to FIND SOMETHING!

We talked about making announcements, the temple, insurance, honeymoon options, and even birth control. We both decided that we weren’t interested in “controlling” that we both secretly wanted to have kids right away, so it was perfect that we were on the same page there. It was so fun to discuss all these details, so many things that I’d been thinking through in my mind for so long, were actually words in a discussion with him. The idea of having a baby…a family…was so thrilling to me! I had to continue to remind myself to….breathe.

The next day, a Saturday, Natalie and my Houston gang invited us to hike Mt. Timpanogus with them. We waffled back and forth on whether or not to go, and though the timing wasn’t ideal, we decided we should do it–something we both had wanted to do since we started BYU. I got to relive some fun high school memories, and introduce Matthew more to some of my great friends that helped to shape my teenage years, my Mormon friends transplanted to Utah.

houston friend in utah

There were beautiful fall leaves everywhere. After several hours of hiking (and wheezing from the altitude) we stopped for lunch at Emerald Lake. It was so nice to rest, as I was feeling achy in my lower back. Half of the group headed back down at that point, and we made the decision to finish the hike to the Summit–to reach the top!

It was just 5 of us that went up. Natalie and her husband Matt, Matthew and I, and Matt’s brother Mark, who is also my good friend from high school. Being solo, Mark went ahead, and luckily our strapping men helped Natalie and I on some of the rough terrain we had to use our hands to climb up to the top. It was rough work, but Natalie and I delighted in feeling the burn in our buns, each step, making us stronger and tougher. Our men were kindly patient with us girly girls.

After an hour or two of that steep climb, we made it to the top! It was SO beautiful up there…so HIGH! It was an amazing view of the Provo valley below, BYU campus, Utah Lake, etc.

on top of mount timpanogus hiking

hiking mount Timp in Utah

on top of the world

 

strong hiking timp

After resting, a snack, and picture taking, at 3pm, we began our decent down.

At one point, Natalie and I fell behind to discuss some girly details, while our men got to know each other. We were pleased to see that we thought they’d be great friends.

I filled Natalie in on the details of the past few days, and she squealed with delight as she squeezed my hand. It was happening, all those dreams she and I discussed in high school, of the boys we would marry, were unfolding before our eyes, and it was so fun to share it with each other.

As we hiked down, we lost the sunlight, and I was chilly. I had been collecting fall leaves all along the journey, and when my hands were too chilly to get more, Matthew started picking them for me, without my even asking. So thoughtful.

I slid down the mountain a bit, scraped up my leg, and bruised my knee, which was painful, and I was SO happy to reach the bottom after 10 hours and 19 miles (up and back)!

Besides my bumps and bruises, my back was killing, I had a headache, and on top of that had a sunburn! I was frustrated with myself for not being tougher (and felt I wanted to prove to Matthew that I was). On our drive home, I was silent, and was a bit irritable, and started to wonder why Matthew loved me so much, I wasn’t much of a “tough” girl that I think he always thought he’d marry. I was hungry….tired…and I spewed my frustrations with myself to him over dinner. He is so kind and loving and patient with me, he helped to turn my frown upside down.

The next day, after church, we picked up Ryan and Alayna and drove 1. 5 hours to Ogden to see my grandma. She fed us lunch, as we chatted. She had just lost my grandpa the year before, and it was great to be close enough to be able to visit. My uncle took us out to the horse pasture, and since I was in a dress with church shoes, I thought I needed to slip on a pair of boots I found in the garage. Upon visiting the horses, we had to snap a few pics, and this is one of my favorites:

horses and boots

We then went to visit my other grandparents, 20 minutes away, and they fed us dinner. It was fun to really be able to introduce to my grandparents Matthew. They’d met him before, but with a group of my friends, not as my boyfriend-almost-fiance.  As we drove home that night, Matthew said, “Your grandparents are cool, they are so personable and interested in you.” It’s true. I feel so blessed for them in my life.

I marveled on our drive home with Ryan and Alayna, that Matthew is so easy to get along with, for others, and how much I love introducing him to the important people in my life, so that they all know each other. After a 10pm drop off, and still exhausted and sore from our hike the previous day, we planned to go to bed early, but we just couldn’t let each other go from our couch cuddling.

It was a great weekend…now I have to find a ring.

After class on Monday, we had one mission–to find a ring. It was stressful for me, as we went from shop to shop, because nothing really jumped out at me. I was also very concerned about price, and didn’t want to get anything too showy. We spent hours looking, and I kinda hated the process. Too stressful for me. I actually hate ALL decision making processes, they overwhelm me. After looking at a certain ring for the 3rd time, Matthew said, “this is the only one that brought a smile to your face.” It’s true. It was decided, and after a quick re-sizing, it would be ready TOMORROW!

Great, then tomorrow, we can broadcast it to the world!

We went to Ryan and Alayna’s and had crepes for dinner. Matthew called my dad in their back room, to ask permission to marry me. They were on for quite a while, and the 3 of us were speculating the grilling dad was giving him.  Matthew later shared with me that my dad brought up 3 things with M (my dad always works in 3’s).

  1. Talk to me about cherishing each other
  2. Honoring the gospel of Jesus Christ
  3. Follow your Dreams

Matthew was impressed that my dad was so thoughtful about it, and enjoyed their conversation. Matthew then thought it would be funny if I called and asked his mom’s permission (as our way of announcing?) so though I was nervous, I did it. I knew her, she was nice, nothing to be afraid of! She of course said yes, and started to cry. It was a fun moment, as his dad got on, and Matthew, it was lots of happy laughter as we shared our plans.

I had hopes that I’d get my ring the next day, but no such luck. Matthew said they called and it wasn’t ready after all. I was bummed, but what could I do?

Matthew had an intramural soccer game that evening, and I went with him to watch. It was fun to chat with the girls and cheer for our men.

soccer wives and friends

I sure love watching him play sports. He’s good and most everything, and it’s fun to see him in a different element. He looked good…

my soccer playerHis friend that got married the week before, invited a bunch of friends to a cabin out in Sundance. I started to get suspicious if Matthew had the ring or not, and felt nervous that someone was going to happen at any moment. I figured he was scheming something for the official proposal, but I held myself back from prying for information. I wasn’t sure if he would do it in a group setting with our friends, or alone, so everything made me suspicious. As the night drew on, I was bummed that it didn’t happen. 

hoping for proposalOn the drive home, he broke the silence and said, “did you think you would get your ring tonight?” I wasn’t sure, and fumbled with my words. He said that he wanted to do something special, and not just hand it to me, so he asked for patience on my part. I was happy to hear that, but anxious for it to happen already!

I was still getting used to us being a couple in front of our friends. We were completely confident being close, holding hands, and cuddling on our own, but to display it in front of friends that have known us for a long time, known of our journey, and hadn’t quite seen us like that, was different. I was happy that he took the lead on that, and was great at showing our friends that we were together. I needed that from him, and I was so glad to finally have it.

getting married

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Comments

  1. Ah!! I was so excited to see this pop up in my email and now you’ve left us hanging! 😉 This is such a sweet story! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.

  2. I do love this story! Thank you again for sharing! <3

    And remember, when life gets overwhelming, good or bad, just BREATHE… 🙂

  3. Thanks for the next chapter! Every time I read one I think that I should capture my own story. I just don’t have all the details like you do. Certainly have a lot of pictures, though!

    I loved reading this chapter. I remember ring shopping, questioning if I was looking for something that didn’t exist, wondering when he was actually going to give it to me. Such fun times!

  4. Ahhh, the engagement!!! I have no memory of that night, but I must bow to your journal ninja mastery believe we were there. Yeah!

  5. Awww, another sweet chapter!! Can’t believe you’re up to 27 chapters already! Love how you recognized the trials in your relationship as a blessing in disguise. As always, thanks for sharing and of course, here’s another nudge for the next chapter 😉

  6. I’m so glad you updated! This seems like it came on so fast. I’ve read all the parts but it’s like you guys decided to let go of the fear and leap and you leapt! It’s wonderful!

  7. Thanks for writing another chapter – almost to the wedding !

  8. What?! It’s done?!
    I’ve followed your photography on Facebook, and earlier this week I was on your blog looking at photos and noticed your love story project! I’m not in the habit of reading/watching a lot of love stories (doesnt exactly encourage patience & contentment in singleness :D) but I was drawn to yours. Read it all in two sittings — I feel quite exhausted now. 😀 Woowww. First off, you are a great writer! Your knack for spotlighting the cliffhangers is annoying excellent. 😉 Second, I really love your story. It’s been encouraging to me that I don’t need to wait for the moment i instantly fall in love. Sometimes it’s rough sailing, and that’s okay. I guess drama isn’t just in the movies! It’s also real.
    Oh and thirdly, i have decided to start journaling again — even if only short and sparse. I love all the detail you have, and know the only way to have that myself is by writing it down!
    Thanks so much for taking the time to write these! Will be on pins and needles waiting for the next one. 😉

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I”m just reading your comment now, I hope you see my comment back. I’m so happy to hear that my crazy story provides encouragement, that was my goal! I’m working on the next chapter right now, hoping to go LIVE tomorrow on our wedding anniversary. Thank you thank you for taking the time to comment!

  9. You guys look like such a a cute happy couple. So cute to see!