Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm Engaged!

For those of you who haven't heard, Elizabeth and I are engaged to be married, as of this past Sunday evening (the 13th). Based on the overwhelming amount of wall posts and messages I've gotten on Facebook in the past few days (over 50), it's a safe bet that many of you already know.

Well, here's how it happened:

I had gone ring-shopping with Elizabeth's sister Katherine the day before, but I hadn't bought anything. There were a couple of rings that I was interested in at the Shane Company, which is where we had started, interestingly enough at the recommendation of my roommate, Casey. We had hit three other stores, but there were two rings at Shane that I really liked. The problem was, there were two.

Anyway, on Sunday, I had arranged to speak with Scott, Elizabeth's father, so after church, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed over to their house. When Scott showed up, I told him that I loved his daughter Elizabeth and was there to ask for her hand in marriage. His prompt response was that I had their blessing. The conversation quickly turned to the question of when I planned on asking her, and had I bought a ring yet?

I didn't know when exactly would be the best time, so I started going through the next few days in my head. One important thing that I wanted to be able to do very soon after proposing was to go dancing, since Elizabeth and I had decided together that we wouldn't dance with each other until such a time as we were engaged.

I had thought of proposing on the dance floor, but two nights prior, Elizabeth had commented that she just had no desire to go dancing anymore, because she wouldn't be able to dance with the one person she really wanted to dace with. Swing dancing was on Sunday nights at Century, and on Thursdays at the Russian Center. The problem was that on Thursdays we had just started skiing lessons in the evenings, and this Thursday was the day before we were leaving for Colorado on a ski trip. I didn't want to propose right before, or on the ski trip, because I wanted Elizabeth to be surrounded by her friends and family at that time, and not merely a bunch of my friends.

I suddenly came to the realization that it would have to be that day, or in another two weeks, in other words, it had to be that day! And I didn't have a ring!

Shortly after this realization, I found myself back at the Shane Co., staring at a pair of rings: both possessing a unique appeal; each one, in the absence of the other, was the perfect choice, but for entirely different reasons. One looked back at what Elizabeth has been and is now; the other looked forward, to what she could be and is now becoming. I describe it this way in retrospect, but at the time, it was much harder to congeal my thoughts, fears, and hopes. I stared at the two rings for about an hour. Talking to the lady who was helping me. Finally, I just knew. Kristen, Elizabeth's mom had called me to let me know how moved her husband had been when I asked for his daughter's hand, and as I tried to describe my dilemma, it became crystal clear which ring I should choose. I marshaled my courage, pointed, and said "it's that one; that one is the ring."

Shortly thereafter, I had paid for the ring, floated to my car, and drove home. Elizabeth and I were meeting with our friends Mike, Chris, and Keisha to go skiing that night. Four of us are taking lessons on Thursdays together, and we decided that it would be both fun and productive to get in some real skiing, sans instructor.

I called Mike to make sure that he had his camera. He had just left his house, and said that he could turn around and get it. I should have told him why, but I didn't have time; I figured that I could call him back to fill him in once I had a plan.

I called Katherine. We discussed my options. I mentioned proposing at Century Ballroom, and she said that she thought she could get Elizabeth to go, but I was skeptical: she was already going to be icky from skiing, and her legs might be tired, not to mention that she would despair that she couldn't dance with me. I decided against it.

The plan I developed went like this: I would convince our friends to leave Snoqualmie at about 7:30. I would call or text message Katherine with an ETA to Renton on the way home. There is a dentist's office located on the side of the hill above the road that we would be taking in Renton. This dentist's office parking lot has an exceptionally pretty view of downtown Renton. I would nonchalantly pull the car up the driveway; Katherine would be there with her fiance Dave. I would pull Elizabeth out of the car, get down on one knee, and ask her to marry me.

This plan never happened.

When we got to Snoqualmie, we arrived to a mass exodus of cars and skiers. After an inquiry, we were told that the lifts had just been closed for the night!

After panicking slightly, I turned the car around and headed back down the mountain. We decided that since we were already together, the five of us would get Teriyaki and watch a movie at my apartment. I called Katherine, who was apparently occupied at work, and left a voicemail. She called back, and I let her know all that I could, trying not to arouse Elizabeth's suspicions: too late. She was beaming a smile, but trying to hide it. I, in turn, tried to hide my smile. Neither of us were very successful. That was her third clue.

Her first had been Katherine, who had shown Elizabeth Saturday evening some of the ring designs that she and I had looked at, under the guise of looking at designs for her own wedding ring. Her second had been Mike, who, assuming I asked him to bring his (DSLR) camera simply because I was already at Elizabeth's and had left mine at home, upon arriving at her house and not finding me there, had wondered out loud why I had asked him to bring it. Before the words were out of his mouth, he knew why, and tried to play it off, but Elizabeth had caught the implication, and he knew it.

Once at Elizabeth's, everyone got in their own car. I made sure that it was Elizabeth who got the food, and that she was alone, while the rest of us made our way to my apartment. Once there, I explained to my friends what was going on, and concocted a new plan. Chris and Keisha were sent out of sight to my room in the back, Mike concealed himself in the kitchen, ready to pop out and take pictures. I turned on the lights so that he wouldn't need flash, and rearranged the furniture so that it wouldn't be in the way of pictures. When she came in, she would be carrying bags of food, so I prepared a chair to receive it. And then we waited.

It seemed like a long time. It was probably only five minutes. Once I heard footsteps on the stairs, but it was only the neighbors. Then, I saw her pull in. I glanced at her through the blinds, bending one with my finger. Little did I know, that she could see my entire profile. Little, that is, until she waived at me. Sheepishly, I waived back. She knew it was coming, but did she know when?

A minute later, a knock at the door. I opened it, and attempted to grab the Teriyaki out of her hands. It didn't come immediately because her keys were also in her hand. The time it took for us to untangle her fingers was enough for her to notice that I had changed into nice clothes. Now she definitely knew something was up. Once I had disposed of the food, I dropped to my knee, and said, "Elizabeth Anne Harris, I love you, and I want you to be my wife, and I want to be your husband. Will you marry me?"

She said yes, and threw herself into my arms.

That was the first time that I had told her that I love her. Mind you, I had been doing it all along, but I wanted the words to carry the weight of all the actions that I had done out of love for her.

Two seconds later, she pulls back, lowers her eyebrows, widens her eyes, and yells at me, "I've been waiting for two months for you to ask me that!"

We could hear Keisha burst out laughing, as she had obviously heard Elizabeth from the back room. Moments later, she and Chris emerged, and we were all smiles, laughter, stories, and tears of joy, as we ate together and hung out. Elizabeth's parents came over, as did Dave and Katherine.

Later in the evening, we headed over to the Century Ballroom for our first dance in over nine months.

Later that evening, we thanked the Lord together for what He had done in bringing us together, and leading us each step of the way. We haven't always known what the next step would be, or even if there would be a next step, but He has led us the whole way through, and I am counting on Him guiding and leading the way as we proceed into marriage.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
Brethren, pray for us." ~1 Thessalonians 5:23-25

Me on my knee

Putting on the ring

Right before she yelled at me


Telling my parents

The ring

Us with Elizabeth's parents, Kristen and Scott

Dancing at Century

Two other dancers tried to cut in on our engagement dance, but I turned them away.

Thanks for taking pictures, Mike and Cliff.


  1. Congratulations. May you both know God's blessings in times to come.

    BTW, nice shoe rack in one of those pictures. Keep the shoes on there.

  2. Congratulations! We pray that you will enjoy a lifetime of blessings!

    Good idea to take Elizabeth's sister ring shopping.