Jon wasted no time in making arrangements to come hear me speak at the 2015 Annual Convention for the Florida Federation of Young Republicans. [Catch up on our story here.]
We were about two weeks away and the countdown had begun for Jon (I did not know at the time, obviously). Over the next two weeks, we talked more and more. I can still remember the calls that lasted for 3+ hours. Yes, our longest was about 5.5 hours-- it felt like we were two kids in high school.
Let me tell you where my head and heart was...
On the inside, I was nervous and giddy. I was nervous because he was someone I knew and so we were catching up versus "getting to know each other." I was also nervous because a few months prior I had ended a two-year relationship. I wanted to love again, I really wanted to but at times I was more afraid of the pain and heartache that can come from loving someone. I knew this, but learned from my previous relationship that love is risk that you decide to act upon. Love is a decision-- a decision to love during the good, bad, and the ugly. Was I ready for that? Was my heart healed? Was I over my past?
Honestly, initially, I was not.
In my pain, I cried out to God. I told him about my hurts, disappointments, embarrassments, insecurities, heartaches, doubts, and fears. I was afraid to love again, and I was afraid that I would dive head first into work in order to ignore the pain (I am a recovering workaholic). Most of all, I was afraid I would be single again for a long time. See, I do not have much dating experience because guys would only want to be friends with me or found me intimidating or thought I dressed like an old lady or thought I could not let my "hair down."
And, the scariest part about my timing with Jon was a word that God spoke to me a few months prior....
God told me that I would meet my husband during the summertime.
Now, if you are thinking like I was, you thought, "oh okay. Sure!" I kept the word to myself because I was not at a place to receive or accept that word fully.
During the "single" months, I repeatedly did fasts because I found myself gravitating to people and things, and not God as much. I wanted to be healed, to be heard, to be loved, to be counseled... but I was looking for it in all the wrong places. Fasting remains one of the most powerful decisions I can make in the midst of challenges and need. Denying my body food or pleasure places my flesh and desires on the altar before God. And, allows me to hear His voice clearly.
Back to Jon...
He asked for my speaking schedule because he wanted to schedule some activities for us. All I could do was smile, right? Well, kind of, I still wanted to know everything. He would remind me over the next two weeks how excited he was to hang out again and to hear me speak in person for the first time. (One of the many, many things I love about Jon is how supportive he is-- he has taught me to slow down, smell the roses, and celebrate my accomplishments.)
The Friday we would see each had arrived. I remember sitting at work SUPER NERVOUS. I was giving my heart a chance to love again and be loved again. Now, remember, Jon had the black and white conversation with me in DC and made it clear that in his thinking about "us" it was to date for marriage.
Jon had arranged for our friend Lisa to drive from Jacksonville to Tallahassee to drive with me from Tallahassee to Orlando International Airport where we would be picking him up. He did not want me on the road by myself for four hours ;). He also had her bring a "gift" that I could not open up until we got to the airport. Y'all, this little box bothered me the entire FOUR hours. I wanted hints... I offered bribes LOL... I just wanted to know what was in the box!!!
Lisa would not give me ANY details. She and I split up the drive. I started and she finished so I could get ready! Our Friday night agenda included a private steamboat ride at Downtown Disney's Boathouse. I finished my makeup, pulled my hair up, and was sporting my brand new dress selected by my friend Cynthia (if you know her you know she is always classy and stylish).
I was ready!
As we got closer to the airport, I wanted to open the gift. I love gifts and surprises, but I also like to know about them. Yes, I know, I cannot want to know everything and still be surprised. Whatever! We get closer to the airport and she tells me I can open the box. I was like a kid in the candy store!!!
This is what was in the box:
A purple Sharpie. Before I could think it through we were pulling through the terminal
You saw it correctly:
Jon asked me to be his girlfriend!! And, I checked, "YES."
I still remember the feeling when I saw him standing outside the airport with the sign. I was overwhelmed. I was happy, surprised, and intentionally stepping out in faith.
Jon gets in the car and we head to Downtown Disney as planned. But first we needed to drop Lisa off to get her rental car. We pull up to a very shady place. Long story short, we wait for about 30 minutes for them to tell her some crazy rule and she was unable to get her rental car. We did not fret. She immediately called a friend in Orlando to come and pick up her from Downtown Disney.
In the midst of the wait at the rental car place and terrible traffic getting into Disney, we were running very late for our scheduled steamboat tour. We arrived at the boathouse and learned that all the captains had left for the night. Jon was super bummed. I reminded him it was okay. Turns out that the manager did not want us to have our first night as boyfriend/girlfriend ruined, so he gave us a treat better than what Jon could have paid for. He allowed us to sit on one of the steamboats for 2+ hours. As a treat, he brought us chocolate covered strawberries (a quick way to my heart:)). Here we are:
After talking it up for 2+ hours, we headed to Lakeland for the Convention. Jon drives, starts talking, and I fall asleep (which he will tell you he now knows is typical).
He drops me off at my hotel and heads to his hotel.
Saturday morning I was up bright and early to prepare for my speech. I was opening the Convention. I spoke about the state of youth and young adults in Florida and challenged the audience to do their part to make Florida a better place! I really enjoy speaking, motivating, inspiring, and educating others!
Here we are after the speech:
A few hours later, Jon had planned a picnic for us. We had our favorite Chick-fil-a!! And, tons of sweet tea.
Then, to end the evening off, he and my mom, came to the Gala where I was the Mistress of Ceremonies. Thanks to Scott Jones (pictured here with his wife) for inviting me to speak!!
To end our first weekend together off, we live streamed Alfred Street Baptist Church, and hung out in Orlando before Jon's flight back to Richmond. It was bittersweet.
Next week... He Proposed!!
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