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Thumbs up or thumbs down from Amy's parents? (cont.)
As I sipped another swallow of ice water, Amy smiled at me, silently encouraging me.
Then I flipped to Proverbs 31:10. "The Bible picks up this theme about noble character here in the last chapter of Proverbs. 'A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.' That's Amy. I have full confidence in her and I'm confident that she will bring me good all the days of my life."
I skipped to the end of the chapter at verse 28. "Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her." And verse 30: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
"I know that someday our children will arise and call her blessed. And, I plan to be the type of husband who praises and affirms her," I offered.
"There is no getting around God's design of marriage." I flipped to the very first book of the Bible. "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.' (Genesis 2:18)
After years of searching for the right woman who was suitable for me, I found and have now chosen, with your blessing, your daughter.
"Proverbs 18:22 says, 'He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.'"
At this moment, Deanna looked at Amy and started crying. Her eyes filled up with her tears, eventually spilling down her cheeks. And Matt was still gliding, sporting his poker face. Now this was most certainly unexpected.
I had anticipated that Matt would be the one crying. From my experience, he had a very tender heart like me and could cry at the drop of a hat. And, from Amy's description, before I walked into their home that evening, I wouldn't have been surprised if Deanna would be yelling at me at any moment, asking me to get out of her house.
When I saw Deanna's tears and Amy's tears, I could feel a lump developing in my throat. Before long, I too, was in need of some Kleenex.
"I love your daughter," I mustered through my tears and scratchy voice. "I love her passion for the Lord, her delicious sense of humor, and her ability to have such instant empathy with people in need."
I felt one of my legs falling asleep, so I turned in my chair to get more comfortable.
"When I went home for Christmas, I invited my parents to share with me their best counsel about the qualities to look for in a wife. In addition to pointing out the obvious, like she needs to be a Christian and we need to be mutually attracted to each other, they encouraged me to select a woman who was my biggest cheerleader and with whom I had a deep desire to share every detail of my life. That describes Amy to a T.
"No matter what vision the Lord might have for the direction of my career, I know that Amy will support me 100% no matter what."
I really feel that Amy has been my female Barnabas, an encourager. While I find my identity in Christ, it's such a beautiful gift to have found a woman who believes in me to the depth that she does. God, through Amy, affirms me. I could never have imagined that I would have found a woman who would be like Joshua, holding up the arms of Moses during the battle.
When I receive hurtful e-mails and voicemails, when the stresses mount at work, when I'm trying to navigate the choppy waters of personal relationships -- Amy is there like a soothing balm for whatever ails me.
"I think Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 beautifully encapsulates the picture of a Godly marital relationship. It says, 'Two are better than one…If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.'"
God, husband and wife are those three strands in the cord which is not easily broken.
"My parents added that any differences between us that might create conflict would be God's way of refining each of us to be the very person He created us to be in the first place. All of a sudden, I felt liberated. No longer was I obligated to find some elusive woman who contained each and every one of the qualities on my increasingly long, Adam-constructed list. Instead, the Lord used my parents to confirm what I think I knew to be true deep down in my heart. Amy was everything on God's list for me. She was exactly what the Creator of the universe had ordered for me."
Deanna nodded, affirming me every step of the way. Amy was glassy-eyed, content. I knew she was rooting for me. Matt continued to glide back and forth in the right-hand corner of the room, listening intently.
"Having said all that about Amy, I want to tell you the kind of husband and father I intend to be." I flipped to a new Bible passage: Ephesians 5:25 and read it aloud. "'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.' That Scripture doesn't pull any punches. With God's help, I will love your daughter with a sacrificial, unconditional and everlasting love.
"And, in terms of the kind of father I aspire to be, I love the passage in Genesis 18:19 which says that Abraham 'will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.' I, too, will direct my children to 'keep the way of the Lord.' I will establish regular family Bible devotions, church attendance and participation in Christian ministry.
"Once we have children, Amy will stay home to raise them full time. We plan to home school them. Matt, Deanna, I will not be one of these absentee fathers, but very pro-actively involved in our children's lives."
My pre-bride was nodding her head, affirming every word.
To my utter delight, no one was yelling. I wasn't being shown the door. And I felt increasingly comfortable as the evening wore on.
"Plus, I must add that we plan to take a pre-marital inventory. It has 160 questions asking about everything under the sun from communication and conflict resolution to money, sex and families of origin. It's incredibly thorough. My parents have generously offered to pay for eight, hour-long pre-marital counseling sessions at the church so that we can talk through our differences with a qualified professional in order to start the marriage off on a firm foundation. Beyond that, my parents will also pick up the tab for an Engaged Encounter Weekend which is equally rigorous in its own way.
"Which leads me to some very practical items. I will put a ring on her finger by February 28th, 2006 and I will marry her, with your blessing, before December 31st, 2006. I want to be very specific here."
I felt like a burden had been lifted. I somehow managed to get to the end of my part. I looked down once again to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything on my list, prepared on the flight to Dallas. I had hit every one.
Looking back up, I said, "So that's all I wanted to say. Do either of you have any questions or concerns?"
I looked at Deanna who was still weepy. I gave Matt eye contact. I had said a lot.
I'd learned over the years in the world of sales not to be uncomfortable with silence after I had made my presentation. The key was to give the customer time to let your sales pitch absorb. Then, he would be more inclined to ask good, pointed questions and I could better assess where to go from there.
In so many words, I had just made "a pitch" for their daughter. And, in light of our unusual history since September, 2001, I wanted to give Mr. and Mrs. Holzer the space they needed to collect their thoughts.
Matt said, "Deanna, do you have questions or concerns for Adam?"
Without hesitation, Deanna said through tears, "No Matt, you go ahead."
Matt repeated the question, this time with more emphasis. "Deanna, this would be the time to ask Adam any questions you might have."
She too repeated herself. "No Matt, you go ahead."
My premise, which I had articulated to Todd that morning on the cell phone in Maryland, had proven correct. Once Deanna witnessed my willingness to commit to her daughter, face to face, the mother hen would no longer see me as foe, but as friend. Praise God!
I think Matt was caught off guard somewhat. Mentally, like me, I was guessing that he was prepared for a fair amount of give and take between Deanna and me. That never happened.
So Matt, feeling compelled to ask something, inquired about my job. "So, do you plan to stay in radio?"
Amy looked a little puzzled. "Yes, I do," I said.
"Okay. Well Adam, I can tell you this: Amy's not been the same without you in her life. I can see that the light is back in her eyes. You know what's funny?"
"Her mother and I just started praying again for her future spouse. Like within the last month. Praying fervently that God would unmistakably intervene in her life and reveal His will to her. We just had no idea that (a) He'd answer that prayer so quickly and (b) that you would be the one." He smiled.
I grinned as well.
"I didn't want to be presumptuous and assume that I would stay over tonight, so I booked a hotel room for Amy tonight a couple miles away from my house through New Year's Eve, so that we could bring in the year 2006 together in San Antonio. It's your call."
"Amy," said Deanna, "I think I'd like to have you two stay for dinner and Adam can spend the night. Then you can head off in your Honda tomorrow some time. How does that sound?"
"Sounds perfect Mom."
"Dinner's on me," I said. "What are you two in the mood for?"
"How 'bout some steak?" suggested Matt.
"Steak it is. Is there a Saltgrass Steakhouse around here?" I inquired.
"There sure is."
"Let's do that then."
"Okay," said Matt, as we all stood up to stretch. I shook his hand and hugged Deanna.
Phew. It was over. I still had all my teeth. It went off without a hitch because I had bathed it in prayer. There's some real truth to the claim of Philippians 4:6. I made a mental note to pray over more issues in my life in the future, whether they seemed as momentous as this one or not.
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