I’m still in amazement at how Curtis orchestrated asking me to marry him. He truly made the moment so special for me, and it was a day I’ll never be able to forget… especially since we have it all on camera!
Ever since a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day, I had known the big question would be coming… I just didn’t know when. About a month ago, Melody, one of our friends who is also the programming director for Creator’s Call (the youth TV ministry we are starting) asked me if Curtis and I could share our story for one of the programs we’ve called, “True Love Is Worth Waiting For.” I asked Curtis what he thought about this, and he said, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea!” He played along so well not giving me a clue that he was actually the one behind this idea!
Melody suggested we could film our story somewhere outdoors and that afterwards we could all have dinner. I mentioned how much I love the beach, so we planned to film at Crystal Cove.
A funny thing though, was that I just couldn’t understand why everyone felt we should film our story soon. “Can’t they be patient?” I thought to myself, “I’ll have time off from teaching in April and can do it any day then!” Finally, after some prodding by several other team members, I rearranged my prior plans so we could do the filming on Friday March 30, the very first day of my break. It looked like a go, but then I got a jury duty summons for that Tuesday. Little did I know how much Curtis and the team were praying I wouldn’t be stuck on a jury panel all week long! As it turned out, my jury duty lasted only one day, and soon I got busy trying to help plan the dinner and vespers we would have after the filming. My friend, Jennifer, suggested I invite my mom, which I did, not thinking she’d be able to come. But as that turned out, she was able to take off that day to join us, too. At one point, the thought had crossed my mind, “Wouldn’t that be something if Curtis were to propose to me on camera?” but I had quickly dismissed that notion, as he had been too busy the week before trying to meet the video streaming deadline. Was I ever in for a surprise!
Friday morning Curtis came to pick me up. He looked so happy to see me, but then he always does! On the trip over, we talked about how we would share our story and prayed for God’s wisdom. Soon we were setting up cameras on the sand and positioning ourselves to each tell our
own side of the story to a different camera. When we finished our individual stories, we came back together as a couple to wrap things up. Here we shared lessons learned, promises, and even some of the funny aspects of our relationship. At the end of our filming, Curtis offered a prayer to close, and afterwards Melody asked if there was any last thing either of us may have forgotten to share. I said, “I can’t think of anything.” And before I my mind could even grasp what was happening, Curtis said, “Actually I have one more thing.” He then proceeded to pull out a poem from his pocket, which he said he had written just for me.
At that moment, I completely lost sight of the cameras, and looked into the deep brown eyes of the one I have come to love. Curtis knelt beside me and his voice became choked with emotion as he began to read.
When we first walked and talked of how our wants and wishes lie,
You said that I could call you then my Jani-butter-fly.
But one name wasn't good enough, I soon began to see,
because of how I cared for you, how much you meant to me.
I saw your smile so bright and wide, and never ever sour,
And so I thought that I would call you, my sweet Jani-flower.
And when you called me Curtis-tree, I needed a new word,
For nothing lands in such a tree, except the Jani-bird.
Indeed, the busy-ness of life is much too much to utter,
And as you come and go I also call you Jani-putter.
And when you're sick and stressed and tired, and life begins to toughen,
I know your day gets brighter when I call you Jani-muffin.
I love to think of names for you, it's all so very meet,
Because none other could surpass, my dear, dear Jani-sweet.
And I have surely wondered why God gave me such a pearl,
It truly is a privilege that you're my Jani-girl.
And if I was to verse-ify, each name here as I write,
It certainly would seem that I should be up all the night.
So as I reach the end of this linguistic rhyming task,
There is one name that I need your permission, so I ask...
My Jani, my dear Jani, with you I want to share my life,
And I just need to ask you now... will you be my wife?
The whole time as he read, my mind spoke the words, “Oh my goodness!!!! This is really happening!!!” After Curtis finished the last verse, he looked up at me with an expression of such tenderness and love written across his face. I felt an indescribable wave of emotion crash over me more powerful than if I’d been hit by a tidal wave from the ocean behind us. At that moment, I just fell into his arms and we held each other for probably the longest minute my Curtis has ever lived.
I finally whispered “yes” when I found my voice, and as we stood, Curtis gave me a bouquet of red roses which one of the guys on the team had cleverly hidden in his guitar case just so I wouldn’t see.
Everyone on the team then followed my mother in adorning us with lei's and absolutely covering us in silly string till we looked like we’d been caught in a spider web!
As we stood there wrapped in the threads, my mother drew near and gave us both the warmest embrace. I was still just speechless. It almost felt like a dream, but it was real. As I brushed off more of the silly string and looked around, the reality of it all began hitting me. Again, I hugged Curtis and this time as we held each other, in my heart I thanked God over and over for creating this man before me – my true soul mate – the one who I will grow more and more in love with throughout our lifetimes here on this earth and the one who I will join in the journey heavenward.
Someone drew a big heart in the sand with our initials in the middle and from there we walked together along the beach away from the cameras for some time alone. Curtis shared with me how he, by God’s grace, wants to become my lover, my spiritual leader, and the one who cares for my heart as Christ cares for the heart of his bride, the church. As we stopped at one point near some rocks, I asked Curtis if he could read the poem to me again, for I knew I had missed some of its meaning as my mind had been in such a state of shock. This time as he read and held me close, tears just cascaded down my cheeks. I couldn’t thank God enough for creating this kind of love that can exist between a man and woman. After Curtis finished reading, he whispered the words, “I love you.” which he had fought so hard to keep for this special day and then kissed me on the cheek for the first time. I knew in my heart, just like the title of the program we had spoken for, how true it is that true love IS worth waiting for.
When we came back to where we had filmed, our friends got a few more shots of us together and at one point Curtis just swept me off my feet and twirled me around as we splashed through the foamy waves.
We then went up to change clothes and call all our family with the big news. But even though Curtis had worked to surprise me, this time we were both in for a surprise! When we came up to the car, we discovered it had been transformed by streamers, balloons, and the words “Curtis & Janine – Just engaged!” written in bright lettering. On top of that surprise, when we came back down to the spot where everyone was meeting for dinner, there in front of us was the most beautifully decorated spread in honor of our engagement. Our friends had made us two cakes, one with our names written in blueberries across the top, and the other with the very words, true love is worth waiting for. The roses had been placed there and right in the middle we found a bottle of sparkling cider and two champagne glasses, each with our names engraved in them and the words, Love God’s Way.
So, just as the sun was setting on the colorful horizon behind us, we offered a toast to God’s perfect love and to true love which can be experienced when we seek his ways. Everyone told us we should give each other a drink, which we attempted, but soon learned we will definitely need some practice on this one before the big day!
After dinner, we sang some songs for worship and several people shared promises from God’s word that they felt would be especially meaningful for us. At the very end of our vespers on the beach, we all gathered in a circle and sang side by side we stand. Again, tears came to my eyes as I just savored the moment. Before we were about to end in prayer, our friend Greg came forward with his guitar and sang us a song which he had written about unconditional love. New tears came to my eyes all over again as I listened to the words and felt my mother’s warm embrace on one side of me and that of my future husband’s on the other side. After Greg’s song, we had prayer to close vespers and our friends prayed a prayer of dedication for us as we move forward in this new phase of our relationship. It was the perfect ending to a most amazing day and the beginning of an exciting new chapter that is about to unfold.