Our courtship and engagement has been absolutely flooded with tender mercies, little miracles that have confirmed the undeniable Divinity of our union. So happy to finally be able to share a proposal story as beautiful as our love....
Last November, Jeff and I were scheduled to go on an American History Tour titled "One Nation Under Covenant," with our friend Timothy Ballard as our guide. Tim has a passion for American History and The Gospel (as they relate to each other) that is unmatched, in our opinion. We couldn't WAIT to see all of the sites with him as our guide. Although the tour itself was sure to be incredible, experiencing it over Election Day, was what thrilled us the most. We both purchased Mitt Romney hoodies and I had my nails done with American flags. We were SO excited. However, two days before we were schedule to leave, our travel company contacted us to inform us that the tour had been cancelled and rescheduled, due to Hurricane Sandy. To say that we were devastated, would be an understatement. However, even the postponing of our trip proved to be Divine.
Our trip was rescheduled for March, and although we knew it wouldn't have the same energy that it would have had over Election Day, we were still completely excited. The first day of our tour was BOSTON, which ended up being my favorite day of the tour...for many reasons. After a full day visiting Bunker Hill, the Boston Tea Party Museum and other fun sites, we set out for Peacefield, the John and Abigail Adams home. For Christmas, my sweet Mama gave me a historial biographical novel called "Those Who Love." It is the story of John and Abigail Adams. As I read it on my own, I would so often share excerpts with Jeff. Both of us were amazed at the often UNCANNY similarities between not only John & Abigail's courtship and our own, but even our personalities. We both felt a strong connection to them and were, therefore, especially excited to have the opportunity to visit their home.
En route to Peacefield, Tim informed us that unfortunately, it was closed for the season. Therefore, we would not be able to go inside. Many in our tour group suggested that we just skip Peacefield and head to Plymouth Plantation. Jeff and I were of the opposite mindset. Because of our personal connection, we at least wanted to walk the grounds of their home, if we couldn't go inside.
When Jeff heard that Peacefield was closed for the season, his heart sank a little bit. Unbeknownst to me, he had planned on proposing in John Adams' study (for sentimental reasons). However, as that was something that couldn't be helped, he had decided that proposing on the grounds would be just as memorable. It seemed to us that many of the others in our group were not as interested as we were in Peacefield, since most of them simply got out of the bus and sat visiting outside for a bit. Tim told us, as we were getting off the bus, that we had about 10 minutes ("Not much time for a proposal," Jeff thought, "but it will do.") before we had to get back on the bus and head to Plymouth. As Jeff and I walked out on our own around to the front of the house to admire the grounds, a woman came out from behind a neighboring building. She walked right up to us, as if she had been expecting us (later, I would wonder whether or not Jeff had set this up. And later, we BOTH would fully recognize that it was our loving Heavenly Father who had provided YET ANOTHER tender mercy for this blessed union). With a smile, she said, "I'm sorry that the home isn't open for another few months. However, John Quincy Adams built a library right next to the home for all of his and his father's books. Would the two of you like to go inside?" A woman out of nowhere, in the off-season, to open a LIBRARY, when "the study" was not available. Seriously? Even I am still amazed at this story.
Naturally, as the rest of the group saw us walk into the library, they also took the opportunity to follow. This sweet woman shared a few thoughts and answered questions, before we were rushed out to get back on the bus. The professional photographer (who later became a friend as well) stayed behind to get a panaramic shot of the beautiful library. Jeff and I also stayed behind, asking a few questions and admiring one of the most beautiful libraries we had ever seen. Both of us are so intrigued by knowledge, learning and the pursuit of truth, that this beautiful building felt like a sanctuary to us. You could almost feel a certain reverence there. It was beautiful. As the camera man finished up, he urged us to hustle and get back on the bus. As he walked away, Jeff leaned over to the woman and asked if he could have a moment in the library with me. She smiled and said, "Absolutely. Unfortunately, I can't leave you alone in the library. However (sensing that it was a special moment), I will just go and close all of the blinds." She closed the door (while the photographer sorta glared back, wondering what the crud we could possibly be up to, when we were supposed to be back on the bus. LOL!) and as I turned around, Jeff was down on one knee, in the dim lighting of the peaceful library, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books, belonging to John Adams. I have never seen more complete raw and beautiful emotion in the face of this amazing love of mine. His eyes were sincere and full of tears...as the simple words came.."Heather, will you marry me?" Everything disappeared for a moment, but us. I think I may have nodded as he put the breathtaking symbol of our love on my finger and we held and kissed each other like no one else was around. (In the meantime, the moment the photographer had seen Jeff get down on one knee, he had smiled and gone back to the bus to let Tim know just why there was a hold up. :-))
As we walked out of the most beautifully meaningful spot that Jeff (and our Heavenly Father) EVER could have chosen for us to commit to each other for Eternity, we were met by our friend Tim, grinning from ear to ear as he hugged and congratulated us....and a very sweetly apologetic photographer, who then asked us to please return to the library so he could take a few photos of us, as a memento of this life-changing moment. Bless his cute heart.
After we took a few photos, we returned to the bus. The moment we reached the top of the stairs, the entire bus (filled with strangers that would soon grow to be very dear friends) erupted with applause and a resounding "HUZZAH!!!!!" What a FUN memory that will always be for us! In fact, at the END of our very memorable trip (after we had become such good friends over the course of the week), we reinacted that fabulous moment, in front of The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Priceless!!
As we sat on the bus in each others' arms, heading towards Plymouth, more tears were shed as Jeff leaned over and told me what he had actually "meant" to say when he proposed. We were both so overcome with emotion in that beautiful moment, that only simple words had escaped from us. He had wanted to propose in the study, because of what it represented to us. One of the greatest connections we have, has been our love of learning. We are both so captivated by study, knowledge and the pursuit of truth. Particularly, when it comes to the Gospel. Among so many other beautiful facets of our relationship, this love of learning is not only what keeps (and will continue to keep) the spark alive between us....but is what we both feel played a large part in our falling in love with each other. He expressed how much he looked forward to spending a lifetime and an Eternity of learning together. I can't remember all of the words he said after that, I just remember looking at him over and over that day and that week, seeing nothing but my future and knowing that we have ALWAYS been meant for each other.
After he finished sharing the many beautiful and meaningful thoughts that he had "meant to share with me," I realized that even I had failed to actually ANSWER his question in the moment. I leaned over, kissed him, smiled and said, "And I meant to say 'YES!!'"