Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Proposed...And I Said YES!

I know, I know I haven't posted in a while and now I'm springing this news on you! Nope, no joke. As of Wednesday, April 6, the Favorite and I are engaged to be married!! Woohoo!!! Sooo exciting! :-)

Let me give you a little background. Since we both live in the DMV area (which is where I was born and raised), the Favorite has met all of my immediate family, but I only met his mom and one of his sisters once (when they came to visit up here!). We've been dating a little over two years, so it was definitely about that time to meet his fam. So we planned a trip to Miami (where he grew up) for a few days this month. The day before the trip (April 6th), we planned to meet to go to a Borders blow-out sale (yay books!) after I finished Bible study on campus. So we met up at the metro, and I must say I was quite happy when I saw him. Looking handsome as usual, I came up behind him and gave him a hug (shout out to Jamil for the cut and shape up!! lol!). Amidst lots of laughs and teasing, we finally found the Zipcar he'd reserved and set out for Borders. (Now something I should insert here that I didn't know until after the fact is that the Borders sale was just an excuse for us to meet up! ...I mean, not like an excuse was really needed hehe, but he did a good job in covering his tracks in making sure nothing seemed out of the ordinary.)

After some book hunting, the Favorite suggested that perhaps we could go to the National Mall to check out the cherry blossoms while they were in bloom, before the Festival ended. A few weeks prior to this day, we had actually been talking about the Cherry Blossom Festival (and how we always miss it!), so viewing some of the lovely blooms under the beautiful DC night lights sounded like a plan to me. (Sidenote: we didn't actually go! He had other plans...)

On the way there, we stopped by Potbelly, and anybody who knows anything about me knows that I love their sandwiches - a Wreck on white, to be specific - and also their chocolate malts! He dropped me off at the entrance, long enough for him to drive around the block while I got my sandwich. As we headed over to see the cherry blossoms, I rambled on about so many things, such as our upcoming trip to Miami and the poor service I had just received at my beloved Potbelly. Needless to say, I was rather aloof about anything that was about to happen!

Just look at that yummy delicious goodness!
Photo courtesy of Google Images
Once we parked on the Mall we simply wandered for a bit, talking, laughing, and reminiscing on the many times in the past that we'd done the exact same thing. (As a matter of fact, he asked me to be in an official courtship/dating relationship with him at the Washington Monument!) We happened upon (actually, no. I found out after the fact that the Favorite had scoped this place out months ago!) this lovely garden that, as many times as I've been on the Mall, I had never seen before. It had a huge cast iron fountain in the center, with several perfectly placed lights to illuminate the unique foliage that surrounded it. We sat on a bench across from the fountain, and the Favorite pulled out a book that we have been going through for a few months now entitled, 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged. This wasn't at all odd or out of place, because we pretty much would take the book whereever we would hang out. Dinner, the movies, the park, anywhere! It was a fun and interesting way to get to know each other even better, and also to prepare us for the marriage that we both knew would inevitably come, though neither of knew (or at least I didn't!) when.

Photo courtesy
of Google Images
In order to keep the book from getting too monotonous, we would each pick a number and ask each other the question associated with that number. That night was no different. One of the questions was about love, and whether or not the love we demonstrated to each other lined up with biblical love. Then, he asked me whether I thought we were ready to be engaged. Of course I said yes :-) But again, this wasn't weird or out of the ordinary because it wasn't like this was the first time we'd talked about engagement and marriage! **disclaimer: details from this point forward get a little blurry because it seemed so surreal!** We went back to the book, and the Favorite began flipping through it, looking for a particular page. He said something along the lines of him running across a question that we hadn't gone over yet. And there it was.....

Question 102.

Ashley Danielle Strickland,
Will you marry me?

I stared at the page, jaw dropped. As I lifted my eyes to look at him he began to kneel, and pulled out a little box with a beautiful ring inside. Somewhere in the midst of this, I said yes!! :-) He slid the ring on my finger then wrapped me in a tight hug. It was all so beautiful! 

I must have said "oh my gosh" at least thirty thousand times that night because I was in such shock. Jeremiah would just sit and gaze at me with a smile, while I had a huge grin plastered across my face, shaking my head saying "oh my gosh" and looking back and forth from the bling on my finger to his content face. A few minutes after he proposed, I said I needed to walk around for bit. As we strolled slowly around the garden, it finally hit me: I AM ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED!!! I squealed and the Favorite spun me around. (I'm smiling to myself just remembering!) He pulled me into a hug, and we stood there like that for a few minutes. I remember saying "Oh my God," and it was at that point that it really began to sink in the depth and significance of this moments. It wasn't just the fact that the Favorite, whom I love, wanted to marry me, it was all the fact that our Sovereign God who sits high in the heavens has been ordering my steps and his for years prior to this moment!!

Just to give you a snapshot (It didn't begin here, but this is where I started putting it all together)... 
--Family financial situation caused me to leave six years of private Christian school education to go to public school. The school opened my eyes to the desperate need in the black community for believers to take a stand for righteousness found in Christ! This prepared me for the next step...
--I didn't get into my college of choice; not because of grades, but because of a paperwork technicality! So I ended up going to Howard, my last choice of school (which I now love!) Howard led to ministry opportunities...
--I got involved with Howard's chapter of the Impact Movement, which allowed me to put feet to my faith and to fulfill my God-given desire to reach out to the African American community on the college campus (and at Howard, pretty much the whole campus is black, hence HBCU hehe). I was actively involved with evangelism, discipleships, campus outreach events, and more! The Favorite and I met through ministry...
--Jeremiah was a junior and President of our Servant Team on campus when I came onto campus as a freshman. We got to know each other through service to the Lord, and initially we weren't really even attracted to each other; we were just brother and sister in Christ! But as time progressed, we both began to realize that the Lord was changing our hearts toward each other...
--February 2009, after talking to my dad for his approval, the Favorite asked to begin an official courtship with me. It hasn't been all flowers and ice cream (weird combo, but you get my drift), but the closer the two of us grew to the Lord, the closer we grew in our relationship with each other. Time progressed and...
--April 6, 2011, two years, two months, and one day after beginning dating, the Favorite once again sought my father's approval, and upon receiving it he asked for my hand in marriage! Yayyyy! And here we are now :-)

So there is a very brief snapshot of how the Lord has ordered things long before I even realized it! Of course there's more (He knew me before I was even in my mother's womb!), but just to give you an idea. We certainly DO serve a risen Savior; I have His testimony in my heart and in my life! (Here's my Happy Resurrection Sunday plug!)

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Well to make to this long exciting story short(er), basically we ended up leaving the Mall and going to my house where I shared the news with my siblings and parents, and took lots of pictures! We stayed for hours and it was just a wonderful time! And then the next day we left for Miami where the Favorite introduced me to his family as his fiancee :-) God is good, eh?

I welcome prayers as God continues to prepare the Favorite and I for the wedding and our lifelong covenant of marriage!