Engagement Stories: Joshua & Terri
When I have a particularly long workday, I think back to the 20-hour day that was (thus far) the best of my life. And I think, You know what? I got through that fairly well; surely I can make it to 5:30 today.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012, began for me in Centennial, Colo. I was one of a half-dozen staffers on the Values Bus Tour, rolling through this important swing state with a message of America’s fiscal and moral responsibility to future generations. But right then, that didn’t matter. All I knew was I was dead tired, having gotten up at 4:30 a.m. … after talking with airline agents past midnight due to a flight mix-up.
I had to make that flight. The set-up was too good to be true: The National Day of Prayer team had agreed to have me speak in front of 300 people at a Washington, D.C., event. While the schedule noted I was to give an update about the Values Bus Tour, the top leaders knew my true design: to pop the question to Terri, the love of my life — in front of two congressmen, hundreds of Christian leaders (Shirley Dobson, Dick Eastman, David Jeremiah, etc.), and my parents. The goal was to get Terri on stage without her even suspecting it. Can you say #Winning?
Proposing at a prayer event would be especially meaningful, because Terri and I had met seven months earlier at a prayer meeting in Washington. Every Friday night at the Justice House of Prayer, a group of 20-somethings gather to pray for justice, the protection of unborn lives and our nation’s leaders.
That first night, what I saw of Terri’s character, passion for prayer and (frankly) her beauty took my breath away. As we talked the next week — and I got her number (score) — we realized we both had so much in common. I invited her to church where we got involved in a small group together. Our friendship progressed; we began dating in November. Along the way, I found great advice in A Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well from Boundless — mainly that it’s the man’s role to initiate and pursue a relationship.
But on May 2 I was two time zones and 1,700 miles away. My boss told me later that I was the first one on the bus that morning at 5:15 a.m. To keep others from worrying about the tight schedule, only Future Best Man, Rob, and a few others knew of this grand scheme. Thankfully, our 6:30 a.m. event in Denver went well and completed on time. I hopped in a taxi, making it onto a 10:42 a.m. flight out of Denver. Then things got interesting.
The flight landed at 4 p.m. The jeweler, who had only finished the custom-engraved ring days before, closed at 5 p.m. The National Day of Prayer gala began at 6. And all this in Washington, D.C. traffic.
Thankfully, Rob was indeed the Best Man that day — the car waiting so we could roll on to Alexandria for the ring pick-up, to Terri’s apartment to pick her up, then to downtown D.C. for the gala. So far, so good. Rob concealed the engagement ring; holding it would only heighten my nerves. After catching up a bit, Terri said offhandedly, “I am so proud of you, giving a speech about the Values Bus in front of the whole crowd.” Little did she know she’d be on stage, too.
When we had broached the subject of engagement previously, her only comment was, “There should not be JumboTrons involved.” I understood: Terri was a words-of-affirmation person and wanted to know what she meant to me. So I prepared a few words, memorized them … and hoped that a large-crowd proposal at a National Day of Prayer event would still be kosher. There were two screens, but not exactly JumboTrons.
We joined my parents, three of my siblings and Rob’s date at the sit-down dinner as it began with updates on the prayer movement nationally as well as times of dedicated prayer.
Thirty minutes before my scheduled time, I reached over and whispered to Terri, “You know how I mentioned we were looking for someone to represent Family Research Council on stage?”
“Well, I never found anyone else. Could you come up with me? You won’t have to say much, I promise.”
Meanwhile, Rob quietly passed off the ring to me under the table.
Terri said later that my sweaty hands were a tip-off (talking about the bus tour typically came easy for me), though she still didn’t expect anything. Finally, we walked on stage. The prepared PowerPoints about the tour flashed on screen, quickly transitioning to a picture of Terri and me in front of the Values Bus.
I said my piece about her and got down on one knee. She said yes. We embraced. People cheered. All was right in the world. Our big adventure together had begun.
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