These are the days of citronella candles, sweet corn, chlorine stiff hair, and junebugs. My family and I spend our nights under a ceiling of stars, in baggy clothes, drinking in these long days between starting summer jobs and finishing school.
Yesterday night, the June bugs arrived in droves. As I sat on our deck, I sipped lemonade and watched the huge awkward bugs flap furiously toward the porch light, the only light shining in the darkening night.
One by one, they hurry at the beautiful light and one by one they slam into the siding and fall; landing on their backs and flailing helplessly until they grow tired and give up. They watch those in front, see the siding, but the light is just too captivating. And so they die. The lesson is clear, the consequences deadly, but their perspective is wrong, and so they die.
So is our human romance with the things of this world. How beautiful they are, how captivating.
If we could only reach that lovely light, how perfect our lives would be. One by one we run blindly, ignoring the carnage below us. And so we die. Die to the heavenly and the subtle.
Are we so small minded? So easily wooed? There must be more than this deadly light that only warms us until it burns us.
As so many of you know, on Saturday, I GOT ENGAGED! It was far and away the best day in all my twenty years and the story is just too lovely not to tell. However, its a long one. So here it is, all written out.
It was May 31st, the day after our 2 year anniversary. Ben and I had planned a shopping trip to Cincinnati and I went to bed ready to wake up and spend a lazy day with Ben. Instead, my college roommate and kindred spirit, Olivia Arledge, pounces on me at 8:30am announcing that “We are going to have a best friend day!”
I tried to argue that I was going out with Ben, and she handed me a letter from him. It said everything he would have said to me if he was there: to trust him, stop asking questions, enjoy the moment I’m in, to be patient, and to head to the Chillicothe farmer’s market for my next clue. So I did my best be calm as Olivia, Ella (my little sister and future maid-of-honor), and my Mama did my make-up, curled my hair, and tried outfits on me.
When I was finally ready, Liv and I headed to the farmer’s market where I met up with the Karst family. Ben’s mom, Debbie Karst, handed me a package with a sunglasses strap from my absolute favorite store, Vineyard Vines. Inside, was another letter, with another clue. It directed me toward a place, “where you meet friends and eat food that comes in stacks.” So, off to Ihop for breakfast.
When Liv and I arrived, we were met by my closest college girlfriends, Hannah and Laura. I was so elated and shocked to see them and I loved relaxing, munching, and chatting with my best friends from Capital.
Soon though, Liv announced that it was time for our next stop. The girls promised I would see them again and I headed off to Yoctangee Park. Liv dropped me off at the beautiful park bridge where Ben and I began everything. Two years ago, Ben took me to that very same bridge in the late evening where he had a lovely picnic and flowers waiting for me. Later that night he played, “The Way you Look Tonight,” which became our song, and asked to to dance and be his girlfriend.
When I arrived at the bridge that day, there was another Vineyard Vines gift waiting for me, and a letter from Ben. It was a list of Ben’s most precious memories of our relationship starting and ending on that bridge. I sat up on the railing, read the list, and cried happy tears as I thanked the Lord for Benjamin.
The whole time, Ben’s sister Savannah who served as our secret photographer for the day, was hiding at each stop taking pictures of the events and my reactions. I am so thankful to have them!
The next stop was my home church, Tabernacle Baptist, where I have grown up in faith. My two Mawmaw’s and my Grandpa John met me there and brought me to the alter where I have prayed with my family over every major decision (and a lot of the small ones) in my life. They prayed over our relationship, and sent me out the front doors.
Waiting for me in her car was my lifelong friend Anna. I had just been in her wedding, and was already missing her since she moved to Illinois. I had a bit of a breakdown when I realized just how much everyone was doing and going out of their way for me. I was just so happy to see her and pleased to catch up with her as she drove me across town to my manicure appointment.
Hannah and Laura joined us again for my nail appointment and we joked and chatted until my Mama and sisters picked me up out front. They announced to me that Ben had provided money for me to pick out a new dress and shoes! We spent the next three hours or so shopping all over town and finished with a scrumptious piece of s’mores cheesecake, and the break was exactly what I needed to digest everything and chill out.
Next, I was dropped off at my very favorite High School hangout, Schlegal’s coffee shop. Anna was there again, along with two of my dearest friends, Josh and Allie. We sipped on root beet floats, I was on cloud nine to have my lovely friends around me, and all too soon it was time to go to my next stop.
Anna took me in her car to my home town ice cream shop where another letter directed me to go inside, say a key word, and pick up a huge manilla envelope which I was not to open until we got to the next destination, my Mawmaw Pinkerton’s house.
We pulled in my Mawmaw’s drive way and I was so excited to open the envelope, I just plopped down in the grass and opened it up. Hannah, Laura, and Olivia joined Anna and us, and I read the 7 page letter that was inside aloud. It was a love letter from Ben with every reason why he loved me. Needless to say, it was the most beautiful and moving thing I had been given…..well, until that night.
After I dried my eyes, we moved inside. My new dress, shoes, and perfume were on my Mawmaw’s bed, and my girlfriends touched up my hair and make-up. Finally, I was given my last letter.
It told me to put on my blindfold, trust him, climb in Liv’s car, and NOT PEEK. So I did. Liv drove me all over God’s green creation until I was utterly disoriented, and soon enough we stopped. She told me I would hate myself for the rest of my natural born life if I peeked and to sit still and soon someone would get me out.
I knew something big was about to happen, so I said a quick prayer and took a few deep breathes and the door opened. My Daddy took me by the arm, and walked me forward. I could hear people shushing each other and “The Way you Look Tonight” playing. I asked my Daddy what was going on and he said I would soon find out and that he loved me very much. Then he took off my blindfold.
We were back at the bridge and it was covered with rose petals and candles. All our closest friends and family on both sides with in the back taking pictures and smiling and crying. In front of them was Ben. He was so handsome and happy and after I looked at him, he was the only thing I could see.
I half ran to him, already sobbing the happiest of tears, and he gave me one of the big hugs that I love and then he pulled back, told me how much he loved me, and dropped to one knee. “Emily Marie Anderson,” he said, “Will you marry me?”
Of course, I said yes. We kissed, we hugged everyone, we took pictures, and we went back to the church where he had planned an after party for everyone that had helped us so much.
He called it the “Big Day.” It was a plan in the making for two months. It had a strict itinerary, so much work on his part, and so so much love from both Ben and everyone involved in order to pull it off. And it was perfect. So unbelievably perfect in every way.
Last night, when I was goofing around with Ben, I asked him to tell me a story. I do this a lot and usually he makes up some crazy thing that makes me laugh. But last night he said, “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess and a little peasant boy that was madly in love with her. He did everything he could do to see her smile and hear her laugh, and he was crazy about her. So the little peasant boy saved every little penny from his little peasant job and bought her a ring. She said she would marry him, and the little peasant boy was happier than he ever thought he could be.”
I told him that was a wonderful story. “This time,” he said, “It’s a true story.”
Welcome! I'm a wife, mama-to-be, foster mom, fourth year music teacher, and Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I explore the calling God has for my family's story.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."