We went on plugging away at daily life. I always wondered every time we went on a date if this might be "the" date that he would ask me to marry him. But time after time passed and still no proposal.
On Friday nights that year we took swing dancing lessons. Our friends Paul & Katherine did it with us one term. Katherine and I decided to have an old fashioned sleepover after one of the classes, and when I came to her house she handed me a box. Inside was the most beautiful fake engagement ring with a matching wedding band marked with the price of $18.99 from Nordstrom Rack... I had to smile. She told me that I could wear that on my finger until Nick asked me to marry him, since "you guys are practically engaged already!"
I didn't actually wear it, but the next day we were having our annual Christmas party at Nick's parents house. My family was invited every year, filled with fun of a homecooked meal from Sue (either a turkey tetrazinni or a chicken in a crockpot... or maybe a lasagna. You never wanted to miss out on Sue's cooking), a white elephant gift exchange, and lots of laughs and fun fellowship.
As I pulled into the driveway there was my mom whom I hadn't seen since the day before. Hmmm... this might be fun. I reached into my bag and pulled out my most beautiful fake ring ever. Sliding it onto my finger, I step out of the car and I smile at my mom.
"So mom," (pause)... "last night, Nick and I... well I forgot to tell you!" and I held that glittering sparkling ring placed onto my appropriate finger right up to my mom's face.
Her eyes got wide as she looked at the ring. In shock she blurted out the first thing she could think of.
"What? No... I thought Nick was going to propose to you at the college group retreat in January?!?"
I blinked... and then stared blankly... my worse engagement fear ever just had come true. I spoiled the surprise of the when and the how in that very moment. My little prank came right back at me. Tears started to fall.
My boyfriend followed me back to his room, and I told him what I had undone. Nick looked a little frustrated. Well, a lot frustrated. He had put a lot of thought into things as well... more tears fell from feeling as though I had ruined that moment for him.
But once again, God had a bigger plan and I just love how He takes those moments, that to me are so funny now to look back upon, and turns them into something way better.
We forged ahead into the new year/millenium of 2000. No ring yet on my finger. My patience was starting to get a little thin... I was hoping for a wedding in September and really would like 6 months to plan for it, which would mean a ring on the finger by March. So Nick had a DEADLINE.
We went on that college group winter retreat in January. Nick and I led worship together during that season of life. I don't remember exactly what happened while we there, but I do remember this. We were asked to go before the Lord about some things, individually. While I was praying, Nick slides up next to me and takes a seat. He looks at me intensely.
And he says: "Kari, I have been so wrong. I am sorry I haven't expressed my feelings into words. I got stuck onto a plan, but I realized that God has released me to say these words to you:"
Could it be??? Really was he going to propose anyways?
"Kari, I love you." There was a pause.
Then he talked again about how he had been released to speak these words, and that he knew God had been telling him to say them to me for awhile, but he was scared. But no proposal followed those words. I was very confused.
See Nick and I had made a few "rules" in our relationship. My rule was no ring no kissing, because I really wanted the only other guy I kissed in my life to be my husband. Nick wanted to not say I love you unless he was proposing and he was saying those words to his wife. And my response to that was that I believed the guy should be the initiator and I didn't want to initiate those words first.
So I addressed that "rule" with Nick. "Kari," he responded, "I was wrong not to tell you sooner. And I want you just to be patient a little longer."
There was no ring that weekend. Patience was beginning to feel like a dirty word again. But once again I knew, I could wait.