Not much time went by before Ben approached my father to get permission to beginning dating me. Remember from reading about my dad that we are pretty close, him and I. Ben was not only a brave man to approach my daddy, but he was smart as well. I didn’t hear this story until later down the road, but essentially Ben went to the office of Dave Runyan at Bethel Church in Redding, CA where we were attending School of Ministry, and with sweaty palms and a racing mind, he mustered the courage to knock on that door. All he knew was he was head over heels for a girl and wanting to pursue marriage for the first time ever, and he wanted to do this right. Well, my dad answered the door and through an amount of unnecessary stalling-type words, Ben asked permission to date me. As the first man I ever loved looked Ben in the eyes, assuming he was about 28 years old, he said no. 10 years is too old and what is this guy doing with my 18 year old daughter? My dad was a bit annoyed at the pursuit of me, so Ben went on to explain that he likes me a lot and would like a chance to date me, and they went around in circles again until my dad asked the question: “Wait, how old are you again?” Ben said he was 21, and my dad put his hand on his chest with a thud, through his head backwards and let out a chuckle of relief. “Sure, you can date her,” he said. And that was that. Ben started to plan his next move.
Let’s pause a moment so you have an understanding of why Ben planned our first date the way he did… If you’ve ever met me, you know very well that I LOVE roses. I love roses because I had a dream when I was growing up that was very vivid and real to me. In this dream, I was sitting quietly in a field that went as Far East as it did West, stretching across the horizon with every flower you could imagine. I was enjoying the peaceful, warm breeze and admiring the beauty of the colors. I decided to stand and walk around, and when I did, the flowers began to represent people. I realized in that moment that every person is different in their own way and that God created a flower to match every person he ever created. I asked God in the dream which flower was mine, and he picked the rose. Ever since that dream, I have fallen in love with roses!!
Now back to Ben’s plotting… It’s fun to reminisce on a first date when you are giddy, infatuated and dreamy-eyed… also in love! I’m pretty sure that I tried on about 3 different outfits, asked my mom, sister and friends which makeup would look best and then scrambled to find some pretty shoes. Ben was asking me on our first date and honestly the first real date I had EVER been on. (I was told I can’t count a date where I ended up paying). =) So Ben borrowed a car as he didn’t have one of his own (his red truck was in Texas). He drove and picked me up at my parent’s house where I lived at the time. When I heard the knock at the front door, my heart fluttered. It was for me! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this tall gentleman in his best suit with a smile on his face and love in eyes, standing before me and ready to dazzle me with his charm. I can’t remember who all was there because my eyes were locked on his, but I do remember the rose. With his suit and tie looking just so, he reached into his blazer and pulled out a yellow rose and thoughtfully explained the meaning. We were friends first and know each other as friends do. We know the real us and we want to tell each other everything! It’s why we have 1 to 2 hour conversations that we fall asleep to at night while having a phone up to our ear, and it’s why we are falling into love deeper every day. Our friendship bond was strong and he felt the yellow rose represented that well. Little did he know my undying connection to roses!
“Where to?!” Ben wanted each part of the date to be a surprise, so he kept me in anticipation. Of course, I knew Redding well, so when we got close I knew we were going to the church. But why? There’s no food here! Haha. He wanted to take me to the prayer chapel to deliver a second rose to me because the prayer chapel, to both of us, was one of our favorite places to meet. We loved to pray together and sit together in our thoughts, and we met there often. He handed me a white rose while standing by the Lion of Judah statue, and he made a promise to me. He promised that we would stay pure and would wait to become one until marriage. He wanted me to know that he respected me, he loved me and he wanted to promise those intentions in a clear way. Still not believing I was chosen by THIS MAN, I was happy to take him by the hand and continue this first date journey. So we got in the car and went on our way.
Next up was NELLO’S PLACE! Nello’s is my favorite Italian restaurant to date! It’s dim, romantic lighting, Italian music, tasty cuisine, and fast, efficient, knowledgeable staff makes for an experience to remember. My brother also worked there and we were treated extremely well! =) Basically all that to say, “Way to go, Ben!” 😉 We walked through the dark curtains and toward the left of the restaurant where Ben pulled out my chair like a perfect gentleman. We talked the whole night like we had been friends for years! Ben made me laugh all night long, he told me how much he was falling in love with me, and we spent other parts of the evening just staring at each other. Toward the end of the night, Ben handed me one final rose. Just like the rose God had picked out and handed to me in my dream as a little girl, Ben handed me a red rose, representing passion. There was no doubt in my mind that we were meant to be, and it was clear as day that God hand picked Ben as my partner for life. What Ben didn’t know was that I had a hope in my heart to be married before I turned 20! Continue reading the next few weeks to find out more about our story and how it all came together.