The night I came home from my mission trip, I called him right away. I needed a ride back to my house, which any of my fellow mission-trippers I knew would do, but I wanted to talk to Mr. ADM right away. I felt this was where God wanted me to be. I had spent a good chunk of my pre-teen and teenage years with boyfriends that were not good or right for me. I did a lot of what is often termed "missionary dating." I finally had met someone who I was attracted to and held the same faith and beliefs as I did. I knew that I needed an equal in intellect and faith to spend the rest of my life with.
Mr. ADM answered right away and said he'd be happy to take me home. In a few short minutes, we were headed back to the house I shared with four other girls. All was quiet, as most people had not come back from spring break. We sat on the living room couch and talked and talked and talked. We spent the next four hours talking about our spring breaks and who knows what else. Finally, around 2 am, Mr. ADM looked at me and asked, "Will you go out with me?" I immediately said yes, with a sense of relief and excitement. We had our first kiss which will always be engraved in my mind. It was beautiful kiss. I had never felt so much love from a physical act of affection before.
Our first formal dance with some of our closest friends to this day.
The Whirlwind of It All
We spent the next few months learning more and more about each other while finishing up our junior year. I was beyond excited for my family to meet the man of my dreams, the one for whom my soul longed. Mr. ADM had already declared his love for me about a week after he asked me to be his girlfriend. We had discussed our faith, our morals, our families and what we were hoping for in our futures. I met his grandparents (who are, to this day, some of my favorite people on this earth), his dad and brother, and a good childhood friend of his. He let me cry on his shoulder when my parents had to give our dog back to her breeder. I knew this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and I was pretty sure he felt the same. We set it up so Mr. ADM would come home with me for a week before heading back to school to take some summer courses. My dad was picking us up, along with a girl who lived nearby who I didn't know, but this is how our school worked. We were 8 hours away, so finding fellow students who lived nearby was like finding the golden ticket! I didn't want to set up too high of an expectation, so I told my mom he was okay-looking...good-looking to me, of course. Now, this makes my mom sound shallow, but I promise she's not. She already knew he was a solid man from what I told her about him, so now the only part of the test left was to see what he looked like. This was just around the time that digital cameras were making headway to where it was the norm, so we took a picture and emailed it to her, but it was quite a task and I was still shy enough so that I only took one picture of us and it was terrible.
My dad came and I told Mr. ADM ahead of time to make sure to give a firm handshake. My dad and brothers are big on that. They've been given whimpy handshakes by other guys in my life before. Mr. ADM made sure to give a firm handshake (the first thing one of my brother's observed when he met him). We set on our way back and I remember feeling giddy at having him with me and anticipating the rest of my family meeting him. My mom instantly gave Mr. ADM a hug the moment he walked in the door, and, later that week, my brothers grew to respect him because he could beat them in Halo. The first thing my mom said to me when it was just the two of us was how he was SO good-looking! Why did I make him sound like he wasn't? :) I knew she'd be impressed.
Last day of Mr. ADM's first visit. There's my youngest brother and sister who are now 6'7" and 5'11" respectively.
After a week of bliss being together and having no schoolwork, Mr. ADM said his goodbye with the promise to return later that summer. We spent every single day talking on the phone and sent greeting cards to each other with long love messages written inside. We missed each other deeply and there were times it hurt to not be able to see him. However, we survived and absence did make our hearts grow fonder. I started hinting at our future together, but per my mom's advice, let him bring it up directly. And he did. We talked about how many kids we ideally would like (I couldn't believe I was with someone who wanted a large family like me! It was a dream come true!), where we would like to live, what we wanted to do, and on and on. At one point, he asked me what I would like in an engagement ring. I told him, "Surprise me." He said, "That's not really fair. I would want you to have something you truly liked." So, I offered to email him some pictures and I spent the next day looking at all different types of engagement rings. I finally sent him the details. I wanted 1/2-3/4 karat solitaire diamond on a thin gold band, just like my mother's was. Simple but classy was what I was going for. And practical since I wanted to be able to wear it doing laundry and dishes and raising a house full of kids.
We went to our first rodeo while camping with our friends.
The week before Mr. ADM was coming to visit again, I started getting the feeling that he might actually propose that weekend. He told me one day that he was going shopping and to please not call him during that time because he wouldn't be able to pick up. BIG HINT #1. Well, really, besides talking about marriage, that was my only hint, but it was a whopper of a hint. My mom and sister weren't going to be in town for Mr. ADM's visit so that was my only thought as to why he might not propose then, but I told my mom that I was thinking this was a possibility. When Mr. ADM arrived, we immediately got on the road and took a 5 hour drive to visit one of my best friends and her husband. They had invited us to go camping for the weekend and while I had never camped, Mr. ADM was an Eagle scout, so he was very excited. We had a blast and I knew Mr. ADM wouldn't propose then, but we still had 3 days after camping for that to happen. We came back home for the 4th of July celebrations and hung out with my family - eating good food and shooting off fireworks. At one point, one of my brother's friends asked if we were going to get married or something like that. I don't even remember my response. After everyone had pretty much settled and gone home, minus my family, I suggested that Mr. ADM and I start watching my favorite movie of all time, Pride and Prejudice. This was before the Keira Knightly version came out, so it was most definitely (and still is) the 5 hour one. Mr. ADM had seemed agreeable to that earlier in the night, but he asked if we could maybe watch it another time because he was kind of tired. "Okay, " I thought, "That sounds reasonable." However, my brothers decided to pop in some guy movie of their own and Mr. ADM got sucked into the movie. I was pretty insulted that he had no energy for MY movie but plenty of it for whatever silliness my brothers decided to watch. With that, I got up, said I was going to go upstairs and work on my homework and he could do whatever he wanted. Of course, still completely in love with me, grumpiness and all, Mr. ADM immediately got up and followed me upstairs to my room where I proceeded to ignore him and work on Statistics. He just hung out. I don't even remember if he had a book or anything. At some point, while I was engrossed in my homework, he ran downstairs for awhile. He came back up and all was good again. My sister came in at one point and started to talk to us about her life's problems. We spent the next 2 hours, listening to her and giving advice when she asked for it. It was about 2 am (see a pattern? jk) when my sister yawned and said she was going to bed. She said goodnight and left. Mr. ADM got up and closed the door, which I thought was odd. After all, we were in my bedroom and my parents would never allow closed doors, no matter how old we were.
Mr. ADM sat next to me on my bed and asked if I wanted to pray. Did I mention how much I loved that my love was Catholic just like me? We prayed some of our normal prayers- Our Father, Hail Mary, etc. and after that, Mr. ADM broke out into spontaneous prayer. I knew something was up when he started praying in thanksgiving for our relationship, as he was not normally one who prayed so freely like that. Once we finished praying, he hopped off the bed and reached underneath, pulling out a pitcher of water and a giant bowl. He then started to wash my feet, and I knew he was going to propose. When he was finished washing my feet, he got on one knee, pulled the ring out of his pocket and said, "Jennifer, I want to spend the rest of my life loving you and serving you. Will you marry me?" Immediately, I said YES with a huge grin on my face. We were giddy with excitement and I kept staring at the ring, MY ring. We stayed up a little bit longer, looking at potential dates and picked a perfect weekend in July of that next year. Just a little over a year before we were to be husband and wife!
A couple months after our engagement with both sets of our parents.
To be continued...