The End of the Beginning

So finally we come to the end of a long saga–the point where most people’s stories start (why can my life never be normal?!). This is where all of the people looking for a sweet love story should start reading!

On December 23rd, my father and I talked one last time, having heard from the Lord and feeling like it was time to move forward. That night, shortly before midnight, I heard him talking in the hallway to Ryan, who was on his way home after a late night of hanging out with my WHOLE family. The front door closed, and my dad came into my room to tell me of what had transpired. I’ll always remember him sitting on my steps, sharing my joy–and my exhaustion!–and praying with me before turning off the light and leaving. I shocked myself by actually rolling over, pulling up the covers, and falling asleep with the promise that I’d process all of this in the morning!

Christmas happened, a few emails, and then Ryan was invited to join the Sinclair clan at my uncle’s house in central New York. I was incredibly nervous all day and into the evening as we waited for him to arrive. The last time we had talked, we’d just been friends; now we would see each other and be…well, something else!

He was late; New England, of course, had a blizzard. When he came in the door, my cousins and siblings, aunts and uncles all crowded him, ecstatic to meet “Danica’s boyfriend”, oblivious to the fact that in some strange sense, even I had never met him as my boyfriend. We smiled nervously at each other through the crowd of relatives…and so, with that glance, began our courtship.

One of those evenings, we sat and talked for the first time. I had stayed as clueless as possible about Ryan’s side of the story, having decided that it would be far easier to pray with a clear head and heart. So we sat on a couch together–together!–and he told me his story: about admiring me when we first met, of soon after deciding that I was the one he wanted to marry, about talking to my dad over and over (since 1996) and being encouraged to just enjoy our friendship, about the Lord challenging him with singleness and his love for the Lord’s best driving him to a place of letting me go in his heart, and about seeing me again at Peak’s Island and being blindsided by how wonderful I was. Then the final conversation with my father, followed by “The Wait”, as we call it (a nearly one-year wait.) About long walks, tears, tests of his faith and obedience, of fasting with only fruits and vegtables for 113 days because he knew he neded more grace to endure such a difficult season, and could never have done it on his own strenghh…I listened, trying hard to catch up with so many years of hopes and dreams, trying to convince myself that this guy who I had spent a year being “just friends” with, was my suitor. Crazy!

The next few months were times of wonderful conversations, of learning each other’s hearts, of praying for guidance, and of just being together. And then finally…

Dad and I were driving home together from the church, and in the driveway, he turned to me.

“So, I’m going to have lunch with Ryan, and I just wanted to check with you and make sure we’re ready to do this.”

I nodded, overwhelmed, but somehow certain.

Dad teared up. “This is so hard.” And then we hugged for a long time. Our goodbye; goodbye to the man I’d always loved and always yielded my heart to. Goodbye to being a little girl with a Daddy who took care of everything. Goodbye to so many things–but the start of something amazingly thrilling.

And so I knew “it” was coming, but of course, he took me off guard. He came over for a family breakfast in the middle of the week. He brought a bouquet–“THE bouquet,” I called it–and was dressed nicely. I assumed he was making the most of a momentous week, and that he had a meeting at work. We ate all together with usual conversation, and then Dad dismissed the younger half to clear the table, himself to get to work, and Ryan and I to chat for a bit, if we’d like, before Ryan left.

Reading this, you’re all wondering how I became to incredibly naive, but it’s so. I followed him to the loveseat in the front room, not noticing that the sliding doors were all but shut. He pulled out an old journal he’d told me about–he wanted to read some excerpts that had blessed him the night before. I listened as he read and traced the timeline of nearly 9 years: of his desire to marry me, to be all that God desired for me, his struggles with the notion that it might not be so, and finally, a broken prayer of willingness before the Lord. He was crying as he read, and I, too, was teary, caught up in the grace of God that had led us for so many years…so caught up, that I gasped with surprise as suddenly he was on his knee in front of me, saying that he loved me (and saying it for the first time!), and then, a ring. He asked me to marry him, showing the pearl ring that was perfect and beautiful and me, and I just cried, hugging him and being overwhelmed. “Yes,” came eventually, and for the first time ever, I told him that I loved him. In a few moments we joined my family–my father had been watching from the kitchen, through the slightly open door, and he was beaming in his excitement for us. It was amazingly wonderful, sharing such an event with not only my dear, dear family, but with the Spirit of the Lord.

And so we are to be married. I know that’s the long version, and hopefully you’ll forgive me for having taken so many weeks to tell this story. And hopefully you’ll know that before this is ever a love story, it’s a testimony to the love of God and how He leads and guides and grants the desires of our hearts…and of how He gives us grace upon grace with things we never deserved.

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