Now that you know How We Met and all about Our First Date, let’s dive into the following months. We spent every spare moment with each other! When we couldn’t be together and were at our separate residences, we were talking on the phone… when we were at ministry school, we were sitting next to each other, praying together and planning our evenings together… and there were those 2 nights when I had STREP Throat and we couldn’t be together at all! Basically you could say we were head over heels for each other and absolutely inseparable! I remember thinking, “How blessed am I to be adored by a man like this.” Some of our outings together included walking through PetSmart (WE STILL DO THAT TODAY), going to In-N-Out Burger for some animal fries (NOW WE EAT THE PROTEIN STYLE BURGER), eating at a Burrito shop now taken over by Casa Ramos in Redding (I MOST DEFINITELY OUT ATE HIM!), and meeting at the prayer chapel at Bethel Church. Once in a while we would take a walk at the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay.
After a few of my paychecks at Mervyn’s where I worked before its liquidation in 2008, I saved up some money and decided it was time to put a ring on it!! But not in that way! 😉 It bothered me that Ben did not have a promise ring. Keeping the promise to remain pure until I married was something hugely important to me and it was a deal breaker otherwise. I knew it was important to Ben as well, but he didn’t have a promise ring to remind him, so I told my girlfriend, Michelle, and we went down to the mall. SHE – to my shock – paid for half! She helped me buy Ben’s promise ring at Harry Ritchies in the Mount Shasta Mall!!! I fell in love with one that was comfort fit and looked masculine, and it was EXPENSIVE. White Gold, shiny and all ready to take with me on our next outing the the Sundial Bridge. Keep in mind my heart was 100% thinking about a promise ring for the man I was falling in love with!!
So we get to the Sundial Bridge and hold hands, walking across the glass and admiring the Sacramento River. It was a GORGEOUS sunny day, and love was certainly in the air. I don’t remember what we talked about but there was always something to talk about, and Ben was constantly making me belly laugh (HE STILL DOES!!). Once across the bridge, I told Ben we should sit on the lookout bench because I had something for him. I had his ring in my purse in the box it came in from Harrie Ritchies, and told him how important it is for us to stay pure and wait until marriage to become one. He was very blessed by the gesture and accepted the ring, we kissed and had an amazing afternoon just hanging out together… and then Ben got home to his bachelor pad. HAHA. Their response: Dude, that’s a wedding ring. I still laugh to this day thinking about our “first proposal” because even though my heart was not to propose, my intentions WERE eventually for marriage.
Our REAL proposal happened in January of 2007. Ben and I got permission to go on a road trip to TX, just the two of us. I was SO EXCITED!!! The man of my dreams is taking me on a trip to meet all of his family and extended family. We had been dating now for 10 months, and we were very much in love by this time. We drove straight from Redding, CA to El Paso, TX in one day and stayed at one of Ben’s distant relative’s house. The second day was much better as we were just driving from El Paso to San Antonio. When we pulled up there were welcome signs and LOTS of smiling faces!!! I especially remember Ben’s cousins there to greet us and one of Ben’s college friends who told me that Ben is very picky when it comes to girls and that I must be something special. Needless to say, it was a WARM welcome.
We had a wonderful time with family and friends and then pretty soon after we arrived in San Antonio, Ben and his whole family took me out to Mi Tierra for dinner! I remember the Mariachi bands, the bright colors and the sounds of everyone talking at once. It was JUST my kind of restaurant. I wore my hair “crunchy curly” in pigtails and was beaming with braces, ear to ear. Lots of stories about Ben that made me laugh were shared and many kind words were shared. I could tell this was a loving family (AND STILL FEEL THAT WAY!). After dinner we all went on a walk at the River Walk. This is where Ben started acting strange. We kept stopping and looking back and the family was at a distance and then all of a sudden everyone would be with us again. We kept walking and walking and then it got so cold that I asked if we could go inside. From there, we parted from the family and Ben took me on a drive to a Hotel. Haha, remember the promise ring. 😉
We got to the beautiful Westin Hotel on La Cantera and walked uphill for a while. I had my trust in Ben and thought maybe he was figuring out a way to propose but kept blocking it out of my mind because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself. We walked all the way up a huge hill to the hotel in sleet while I was starting to regret wearing heels, and we finally got there after about 10 apologies from Ben and about 5 “just trust me’s”. I sat by the fire inside while Ben secured a room they were reluctant to give out for just 10 minutes. Once he showed them THE RING and told them his plan, they said yes, as long as Ben handed over his car keys until we came back. Deal! I had no clue what was going on behind the scenes, and then he took me by the hand and to the elevator to the very top floor. There was a room that overlooked the entire city of San Antonio. It was night and there were still some Christmas lights to light the city. It was beautiful. Ben rubbed my shoulders and then turned me around while bent on one knee. He spoke of his love for me and how much he cares for me and adores me and then asked if he could marry me. I hugged him, cried and said YES!!! It turned out to an incredible evening!! We went back to his parent’s house where the whole family was waiting to hear “the story”. I was in Heaven. Now to plan a WEDDING! We were thinking June of 2007!! Yup, just 5 months away!!! Did I mention a crazy freeze happened that night and our car doors froze shut??! See pics below…