Warning: This is a long story. It involves bad jokes and gushy sentimentality and was written with romance-novel level detail (but PG rating descriptions). — David C
To understand this story, you need to know this joke:
A truck driver is driving a shipment of chocolate chip cookies by the seashore. As he’s driving up the winding road through the cliffs, he hears something from the back of the truck: “Eat me! Eat me!” He sees nothing in the truck except cookies and keeps driving. But he hears it again: “Eat me eat me!” He realizes it’s a chocolate chip cookie saying this and starts arguing with it, but the cookie is relentless and insistent. Finally he gets fed up with the cookie, rolls down the window, reaches behind him, grabs the cookie and throws it into the ocean.
Don’t get it? Read on.
Liz and I first met at a medical missions conference a year ago while carpooling with others on a long, arduous overnight 12 hour road trip to Louisville, KY. Somewhere along the line she figured out I had a terrible sense of humor but still thought I was a good person to know. I had heard of her long before meeting her: how she was a wonderful, Godly woman who also happened to be a Christian counselor (and consequently granted with near-inexhaustible patience). At the end of the trip, people thought we had known each other for years even though it had only been a few days.
A few weeks later, Liz and other friends from the conference came to my house for lunch. I made rack of lamb (with a delightful mint & anchovy butter) and we played a game called “Imaginiff” which is essentially a cross between Spin the Bottle and Truth or Dare. I got the following question: “Imaginiff Liz and Dave were married. Who would be the first to forget the anniversary?” I found myself wishing that was a real life question. (By the way, we each thought the other person would be the first to forget!)
Months passed. At the conference, Liz met an organization and was planning to move down South to work. In May, we had a dinner to say “goodbye.” In reality, it became “Hellooo!!!!” and we started dating shortly thereafter. She decided to stay here for us and everything continued to blossom from there.
One of the things my house does is a Monday night “milk and cookies” ministry, where we give out free hot chocolate and cookies and invite the neighborhood kids in for games and a short Bible study. Afterwards we have dinner for some of the neighborhood adults. Liz started coming down to help and quickly became a good friend to everyone (the kids like me, they LOVE her… and her cookies). The neighbors started ribbing us about moving ahead with things, and one of them even gave me a romantic set of CDs with some R&B and Gospel music to play “on our anniversary… to get you in the mood.” He repeated this multiple times for emphasis. I didn’t forget.
To understand the rest of this story, you need to know this joke too:
A man and a woman had been dating for some time, and he decided to finally take the relationship to the next step. On their anniversary, he took her to a fancy restaurant. There was a fancy waiter, violins, the works. He ordered a platter of oysters and they ate all except the last one, which was still closed. He gave it to her and said, “I want you to have what’s inside this.” She opened it up, and what do you think she found? A chocolate chip cookie! (If you didn’t get it, it’s a continuation of the first joke.)
I had the weekend picked out; we had set aside the time for our 6 month anniversary and she was going to come down for dinner. I spent the 24 hours beforehand preparing. The ring, after a month in production in the fires of Mount Doom, was finally ready:
(Yeah, it’s awesome. Pretty ring for pretty girl, though there are no elvish characters in the engraving.)
I made a little jewelry box to hold the specimen:
(Notice the “oyster” top.)
(Notice the “chocolate chip cookie.”)
(Notice the… well you get the idea.)
I raced around Wilmington looking for ingredients for dinner, which included rack of lamb and fresh oysters (not easy to find!!!). My housemate James helped me clean and shuck the oysters as well as take pictures as I set up the ambiance:
And, of course, instead of a fancy violinist, I had my neighbor’s R&B & Gospel music all queued up and ready to go. (There was even Marvin Sapp’s Chrismas Card.)
She arrived as I finished up. We began eating through the meal and making light conversation. She had no clue, not even when I pulled out the oysters (grilled in fennel butter) and started re-telling and laughing at the first joke above (which she was well acquainted with!) She didn’t suspect anything when I mysteriously texted James to come down from his room (to take pictures), or even when I pretended to prepare him a plate of food while telling the second part of the joke (which she was also well acquainted with!)
In fact, the last thought running through her mind as a “single” woman was, “Why is Dave getting down on one knee?”
(That’s a burn mark on my knuckle from cooking. Hope you didn’t notice.)
We prayed together in blessing and enjoyed a few final pictures:
And that, my friends, is the story of our engagement! Cheesy and corny, perhaps, but certainly food-filled and anything but cliché. Thanks for following along!
I will say that I pursued her, I allured her, and I loved her as best as I knew how (Hosea 2). Each of us have had our own heartaches and brokenness leading us to this moment, but Jesus Christ has been gloriously merciful in granting us this joy. It is under his inspiration that we live and breathe.
Even as I drove her through my neighborhood in the inner city of Wilmington afterwards, amidst police sirens and lights flashing in our broken streets, I wondered at the kind of life we would build together. It is true, there is so much in this world that threatens us with physical, spiritual, and relational harm. We have each witnessed, in our professional as well as personal lives, the devastating power of sin in communities, families, and individuals.
But we have also seen that God is both sovereign and good. However disheartening our surroundings become, we take heart for He has overcome the world. However complex and unsure our calling and circumstances seem, our injunction towards obedience remains sure:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8
By Him and for Him, we live and breathe.
Elisabeth M. & David C.