Whew! I can easily say that these past three days have been the most joyous days of earthly living I have experienced so far. Each day was filled with anticipation and a slew of emotions that culminated into my proposal to my now fiancé. While we have been together for a little over five years now, there was no shock in our decision to marry. However, the process in asking her was, for me, surprisingly unnerving. I had known for about a month that I was going to take her to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC to propose to her and I knew that she would most definitely say yes, yet there was an anxious feeling I had that only increased as the night progressed.
It began in the morning. With Erica’s grandmother (Nana) nearing death, (keep her family in your prayers by the way) her parents were spending the night at her house leaving Erica’s home empty. Erica has been mourning this loss of her beloved saint of a grandmother for weeks and actually seems to be coming to grips with her death by the grace of God. However, not wanting to stay in an empty house alone, I knew she would rather stay at our house that night. Of course, since we have an extra bedroom, she stayed with my family. I had been playing out in my mind for weeks, even months, how I would propose to her. I had the where and the when, now all I needed was the how. My mind had been blank for months until about a week ago I decided to write her a letter. I knew that my emotions would overcome any speech that I would have tried to give and with her expected tears, I wouldn’t have made it through a spoken expression of my feelings. So, the notion to write to her was really inevitable. As I woke the next morning and she started getting ready, I began to write. Now, if you know me at all you will know that I am, to say the least, a procrastinator. Therefore, you shouldn’t be shocked that I began writing her proposal letter the day I was going to propose to her. Knowing I had less than two hours to write it, which would include getting ready, I nearly panicked. As I began to pray for guidance from the Father before writing, I felt that He was telling me to simply think of her. What a simple yet profound thought! Think of her! My morning so far had been consumed with thinking of myself and how I was going to get everything ready. What I needed to do was think of her! So, of course, I did. My mind was instantly filled with inspiration which flowed directly from my heart. I thought of Erica that morning and I spilled out my emotions into that letter which even led me to write her a poem. In summation, I easily finished the letter and poem without her knowing (not as easy as it sounds) and we were ready to head to Biltmore.
If you have ever been to Asheville or Gatlinburg or any destination along I-40, you will understand when I say, the drive was beautiful! Traveling through the Smokies, admiring God’s creation, only increased my joy in anticipation to making this sweet gem beside me my bride. That beautiful smile of hers seemed to never leave her face during that entire trip! There is nothing like taking a trip with her because I know that when it gets quiet and I start to feel a little tired, she will start to hold my hand and just rub my arm with her soft, sweet hands. When I glance over to give her a smile of approval, she is already looking at me with her beautiful brown eyes. Oh, what joy she brings me! This is why I most definitely didn’t dread the drive to Biltmore but rather looked forward to it.
A short (a drive with Erica always seems short) three and a half hours later, we arrive at the Biltmore Estate. It was perfect from start to finish. Erica was glowing with excitement. We first visited the Antler Hill Village. After walking around for a minute looking in a few shops, we saw something that nearly made Erica jump out of her shoes. We saw a farm. With animals. That you could PET!! A petting zoo?! Could it be true?! We then noticed a sign saying it closed at 5:00. I looked at the time. Uh oh, 4:55. I began my “it’s ok sweetie, we will find something else to do,” spill. I didn’t have time for that. Off we went, running, nearly sprinting in order to get to the farm to pet those exotic sheep, goats, and chickens as if we had never seen such animals before. We made it just in time! I must say, it was truly a blast. It was fun to pet the animals and watch the baby goat go wild, but the most fun I had was watching Erica. She had so much fun that if they hadn’t made us leave, I just know that we would’ve stayed there all night! Dinner reservations at 6:00 hurried us back to the car. We made our way to the Biltmore Estate’s parking lot and boarded the shuttle bus which took us directly to the mansion. We were both truly amazed at the beauty of this estate, especially with the huge Christmas tree lit up in the front of it. We were both elated to be there with one another.
Next came dinner. Anticipating a free meal, (no, really, I am that ignorant) we were seated in the Stable Café. This beautiful diner was decorated with Christmas lights and trees. I’m sure it would have been hilarious to watch us at this very proper restaurant. While everyone around us is ordering wine, we are ordering Coke. We take a glance at the menu, look back up at one another, and slyly grin as neither of us have a clue what some of this food is. The menu may as well have been written in French or German. However, using our reading skills and context clues, we managed to order three delicious courses that had us leaving with our stomachs full and more than satisfied. Up until this point I was extremely nervous about proposing to her and I just knew I would mess it up. However, sitting with her at dinner, talking with her, and truly enjoying just her being excited to be with me removed all of my fear. One look into her big brown eyes just made me smile and forget why I was nervous and remind me why I was doing what I was doing. I was about to be engaged to marry this beautiful, amazing young woman.
It was time. It was time for all of my fears to relinquish. It was time to make our way to that pavilion beside the house overlooking those beautiful mountains. It was time to get that letter out. It was time to have one hand in my pocket holding that little silver box and one hand holding hers. It was time to make her my bride-to-be. We made our way out onto the impressive terrace that led to a garden that was obviously not in bloom. We then made our way to “the spot.” We looked out over the mountains from that pavilion and I slyly pulled out that letter and asked her to read it. Since I write frequently, she just thought it was another one of my devotions or something of the sort. I just watched her read with a smile on my face. With box in hand, I saw her face go from smiling and laughing at the beginning of the letter, to serious with one hand on her mouth as she does when she gets nervous. I then notice tears start to run down her face. I knew she was about to finish. With box in hand, I kneel before her and ask her the question I have been dying to ask since day one of our relationship. With tears falling to the ground of that 100 year old estate, she nods her head and gives me the best kiss anyone has ever received. Tears never tasted so sweet. I rose from my knee and delightfully embraced her. What bliss the rest of the night was for the two of us as we toured the Biltmore home and then drove back to London. The next day was spent likewise in true bliss as every look from her would make me smile and think of that night.
I know for a fact that I will never forget that night on the pavilion at Biltmore for as long as I live. These emotions have since settled and I am currently basking in my memory from that night and the reality that it represents when I talk to and see Erica. We took another step forward in our relationship Tuesday night with our commitment to marriage. We do not take this beautiful gift from God for granted as we reflect all glory and praise back to Him. He has blessed us immensely with one another and the relationship we have. It truly is because of our individual relationships with Him that make ours what it is. We pray that we will grow closer together in this engagement period and closer to God. So, to close this emotional experience, I want to thank my bride-to-be, Erica Christian, for always being mine and wanting nothing more than to love me, respect me, and be with me for the rest of our lives on earth as we strive to represent in our marriage the relationship Christ has with His church and God with His people! I love you Erica, my fiancé.