You Don't Get Engaged by a Creek!
You Don't Get Engaged By A Creek!
By Michael T. Powers
From his new book, Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter."
As a young boy in eighth grade, I vividly remember praying to God to bring a Christian girlfriend into my life. I didn't have to wait long before the matchmaking that God had planned even before I was born was put into effect.
It was November of my freshman year at Clinton High School, and a gorgeous looking senior girl by the name of Kristi Conway stopped me in the hall. I had the name Powers on the back of my shirt, and she asked me if I was John Powers' brother. I stammered, "Yes I am..."
"Do you think you could give me his address at college so I could write him?"
"I would be more than happy to do that," I croaked.
I was love struck. A senior girl had actually talked to me. What am I saying? A female of any grade had just talked to me, and I was on Clouds Nine, Ten, and Eleven!
Later that day I was in the gym shooting baskets with a teammate until basketball practice officially started. Coming out of the girls' locker room was the woman of my dreams. Her team had just finished up with basketball practice, and she was heading home for the night. Here was the perfect woman, the woman who had talked to me earlier in the day. So what if she wanted my brother's address? She had talked to me... and now she was looking at me... and she was smiling, not just any smile, but one that lit up the whole gym and made my heart beat faster. I couldn't take my eyes off her as she seemingly glided in slow motion the entire length of the court making her way to the hallway door. I was in love, and all was well with the world.
Suddenly I felt as if I had been stuck with Cupid's arrow. And it hurt! I couldn't believe that Cupid had such poor aim and had shot me in the head, because now there was an intense pain in my cranium and the ground rose sharply up to meet me. The sound of a certain senior girl's laughter rang in my ears as she exited the gym.
My buddy, my teammate of all people, had thrown the ball to me while I was staring at my future wife. The ball had hit me in the head, knocked me off my feet, and I lay there as three wavering images of Kristi walked out the door. I figured the relationship had ended before it even started, but the situation proved to be a good conversation starter the next time I saw her.
I never thought the friendship between Kristi and I would turn into a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. We started out writing letters back and forth in study hall. When we found out we were both Born Again Christians, we had common ground for discussions. All the while I knew this was the woman for me, but knew that because she was a senior and I was a freshman, she would be going off to college and that would be the end of it. I prepared myself for that to happen.
I grew to love her for her kindness. I have yet to meet a kinder, more compassionate person. She was always putting other people first. Students would come to see her about their problems, and she became their unofficial counselor. When I talked to her, it was as if I were the most important person in the world to her. Our friendship grew through letter upon letter and three hour phone conversations. I will always remember the first time I spent more than an hour talking on the phone to her. I had always thought that people who talked on the phone for more than two minutes were dorks with no lives. My entire life up to this point was filled with phone conversations like:
"Hey Mike, you want to play baseball today?"
"I'm there dude!" Click.
I remember smiling to myself one night after I hung up and looked at the clock. I had just spent more than an hour talking to a girl on the phone! I finally understood why people spent hours on the phone.
During the rest of the school year we grew closer together as friends, and friendship blossomed into something more as we wrote hundreds of letters that we still have in a drawer today...like the letter I wrote to her urging her to find someone else. Why? Because I had crooked teeth at the time. "You are so special, Kristi. You deserve someone with good teeth..." and the letter went on and on as a fourteen-year-old poured out his greatest fear to the woman he loved. How could she stay with me knowing I had crooked teeth? She assured me that she loved me and hadn't even noticed my teeth. She thought the letter was so sweet that she showed it to one of her best friends, Beth Mignon. I was mortified when I found that out.
AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!! She showed my letter to one of her friends!!!!! However, I got over it. As scary and frightening as that was to me, when it was the woman I loved, I would forgive her for anything!
I remember the first time we held hands. We were sitting on the couch at my house watching TV with my little brother and sister. I don't remember how our hands got stuck together, but man, oh, man, the fireworks were going off overhead! I was actually holding her hand!! But then, my heart stopped. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my dad walking towards us! What do I do?! If I let go of her hand, it might draw attention to it and he might see it! If I didn't let go, he was bound to see us anyway!!!! I could hear the theme from the movie "Jaws" as he moved closer and closer...
Dum, dum. Dum, dum. Dum, dum. Dum, dum. DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM!!!!
I quit breathing. He walked into the room, grabbed something from the shelf, and walked out without so much as saying a word to us.
It was right about this time that I remembered a prayer uttered by a lonely eighth grader. This time my prayer was different. "Thank you, Lord, for bringing my Kristi into my life." I had forgotten to thank God for answering my heartfelt prayer.
Six months after we started going out, I kissed her for the first time. She went to kiss me on the cheek and I turned my lips to her before she knew what was happening. My God-given athletic ability was proving useful as my quickness stunned her and she went ahead and kissed me on the lips! The heavens opened, a shaft of light came down from the sky, and a host of angelic voices sang, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"
Our lifelong love was sealed with our first kiss. When my head stopped swimming, all I could think to say was: (Are you ready for this?)
"So, how was I?"
I had never kissed a girl before since she was my first and only girlfriend. Why had we waited so long to kiss? Because I was scared silly to try to kiss her! I don't know what possessed me to turn my head to her that time. Must have been a muscle spasm. Whatever it was, I was glad I did it!! I was also glad that our physical relationship with each other had a slow start. It was much easier to save ourselves for marriage since we didn't start making out the first day we met.
We read our Bibles together, we prayed together, and we gave all areas of our relationship to the Lord, especially our physical relationship. One of the things I was especially thankful to my parents for was that they wouldn't let me go anywhere with Kristi alone our first year or so. She could come over to my house, and I could go to hers, as long as someone was there with us. Any dates had to be with other people, also. At first this bothered me. I felt like I was being treated like a little kid but in hindsight, I was glad for the restrictions. The longer we waited to start any kind of physical relationship, the easier it was to save ourselves for marriage. The first time I held hands it was like the Fourth of July, but soon after it lost its luster. The same was true for the first kiss. It was totally wonderful but soon after we had to kiss more and longer to get the same effect. We had to make a conscious effort to refrain from going any farther in our physical relationship.
After she graduated, Kristi decided to work for the summer, and, when the fall came she didn't go to college. For the next three years she dealt with dating someone who was still in high school while she was out in the "real world." I grew to love my future wife more and more each week. I had a terrible self-image up to the point when I started dating her. Little by little she made me start to like myself. If there is any one thing that she helped me with the most, it was my confidence. Today I am a very self confident person. Those who know me well, say I am too self-confident. I can feel comfortable in any situation now, thanks to her. I am what I am, and, if you don't like me, then that's your problem. (See what I mean?)
Christmas of my senior year was coming up, and Kristi was dropping hints to me about a ring. She mentioned something to me about the people she worked with at General Motors kept asking where her ring was. I knew it was time to get her a ring and ask her to marry me! I picked out a ring, purchased it, and went home to make my plans. I knew I would give it to her at Christmas, but I also knew I needed to ask her dad's permission. I found myself over at her house one Sunday afternoon, and I was watching football with him. I had approached her mom earlier in the day and asked her if it would be okay if I married her daughter. I thought it best that I ask her mom first and then build up to her dad. Her mom looked at me and said she would be more than happy for us, but then added, "You know, Michael, she doesn't need our permission to get married." I figured that, but I wanted to make sure I honored her parents.
Finally it was time to face the man of the household. I went back in the living room, sat down on the couch across from his chair and began the longest afternoon of my life. I wasn't about to bother him while the game was on, so I had to wait for a commercial. Every time a commercial would come on, though, my heart would start beating wildly in my chest, my breath would get short, and, by the time I had worked up enough nerve to ask him, the game would come back on. This went on for perhaps an hour and a half. Finally, I worked up enough nerve to ask him. Before I knew it, I had gotten off the couch and found myself walking towards him. I was just ready to ask him when the game came back on.
Now what was I going to do? I was already at his chair, and had to think of something fast, so I knelt down next to him, and fumbled with my shoelaces like I had to tie them. I was stuck and didn't know what to do next. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye. My heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest and flop around the room. He waited about a minute before he said, "Mike, is there something I can do for you?"
There I was on my knees in front of her dad, looking up at him like some lost puppy.
"I ah...I would...ah...
"Iwouldliketomarryyourdaughterifthatisokwithyou. Iboughtaringalreadyandwanttogiveittoher'causesomeguysatworkhadbeenaskingheraboutaring. Iloveyourdaughterandwouldtakecareofher..."
My mouth was running a hundred miles an hour and I couldn't stop talking.
He looked down on me and told me he would like that. Then he patted me on the head, and I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. After I fetched his newspaper and slippers, I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
I wanted to give the ring to her at a special place, and I could think of no place more special to us than the land that my dad owned by Turtle Creek near Carver's Rock. Kristi and I loved it there, and I planned on us taking a moonlight stroll near the river with my future wife and our two dogs. My older brother got wind of my master plan about an hour before I put it into action.
"YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE HER THE RING WHERE?!" He was obviously upset about it. "YOU DON'T GIVE A WOMAN HER ENGAGEMENT RING BY A CREEK!"
I thought it would be perfect, but, what did I know? I had never done this before.
He told me that I should take her to a nice restaurant and give her the ring over dinner. That sounded fine and dandy to me, except that all my savings went to purchase the ring. Before I knew what was happening, he placed $50 in my hands, made reservations for me at a restaurant, and shoved me out the door.
So there we were. We ordered our meals and talked about whatever while we waited for our food to come. When it arrived and the waitress left, all we had to do was pray before we started to eat. It was our practice to hold hands while we prayed, so I reached my hands under the table and slipped the ring box into her outstretched fingers. Her eyes lit up...I will always remember the look on her face when she opened the box and saw what it was...
"Kristi Conway, will you marry me?"
She said "yes", and the rest is history!
My plans were for us to get married right after my graduation party in June, but Kristi, in her infinite wisdom, suggested we wait until after my first year of college before getting married, which we did.
My wedding day was wonderful, but it went by so fast! We originally planned to sing to each other in our wedding, but as the time got closer Kristi got more and more nervous about it until she finally told me she couldn't do it still I decided to sing to her and picked out a song. The song I chose was entitled, "I Would Never Promise You."
I still remember the words by heart.
I would never promise you with just my strength alone,
but all my life I'd care for you and love you as my own.
I've never seen the future. I only see today.
Words that last a lifetime would be more than I could say.
This love inside my heart today is more than mine alone.
It never changes, never fails, and never seeks its own.
And by the God who gives it and who lives in me and you.
I swear these words I speak today are words I'm going to do.
So I stand before you now for all to hear and see.
And promise you in Jesus' name a love He's given me.
Through the years on earth and as eternity goes by
The life and love He's given us are never going to die.
The life and love He's given us are never going to die...
"I Would Never Promise You"
By Don Francisco
I was very nervous about the whole day, but I knew that if I could sing to my wife at my wedding, I could do anything. After I sang, the rest of the day seemed to go by in a blur.
The greatest gift that we gave to each other our wedding night was the gift of ourselves. Since we had waited to have sex until we got married, we were able to look into each other's eyes that night in the hotel room and say to each other, "I saved myself totally for you." It is something we will never regret.
The rest of our lives up to this point are stories for another day, but I want my lovely bride to know this:
You are the most beautiful, caring, and compassionate person I have ever met. You have put up with so much in our eleven years of marriage, and I am eternally grateful to God and to you for sticking with me. I have been a very selfish person through most of our marriage, and I hope that I have moved out of that stage of my life and can now start to put you first. Thank you for three wonderful children, and for all that you sacrifice and do for us. You are the most wonderful wife and mother in all of God's creation, and I feel more in love with you today than I did when we first kissed. I pray that we will wake up everyday and "choose" to love each other, even when we don't feel like it. Continue to remember the verse we put on our wedding invitations: "...A cord of three strands is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12). With Jesus in our life, we're going to make it.
I love you and want you to know that you are my best friend, and that you have made me the happiest man on earth.
Michael T. Powers
Copyright © 1999 by Michael T. Powers, All rights reserved.
The story above is from Michael's new book: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter" which is now available!! Click on the link below to order yours! http://www.HeartTouchers.com/michael_powers
Michael T. Powers, the youth minister at Faith Community Church in Janesville, Wisconsin is also the founder of HeartTouchers.com, a popular website with over 7.8 million visitors in the last six years. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Kristi, and the proud father of three boys.
He is also an author with stories in 33 inspirational books including many in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and his own entitled: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter." To preview his book or to join the thousands of world-wide readers on his inspirational e-mail list, visit: http://www.HeartTouchers.com
Most importantly, Michael believes that life is not about religion, but about a relationship -- a relationship with Jesus Christ.