The Best Propos AL

Today is April 19. For some this may be just another day, but for my beautiful wife and I this day represents so much more. It was on this day 3 years ago that I asked Jennifer to marry me. I’ve made a video on YouTube (which I’ll share below) that features the unfolding of the unique way I proposed to Jennifer. Maybe you’ve even seen it before. However, it’s occurred to me that I’ve never publicly told the whole story of how that evening actually came about. How did I come up with the idea? How long had I been planning it? Did everything go as planned? Why did Jennifer say yes? These are all questions I will answer in this week’s post.

Warning: Potential vomit inducing love story ahead!

Jennifer, my beautiful wife whom everyone agrees is out of my league, was ready for me to pop the question way before I was ready. This was no fault of Jennifer’s. Alan was just being scared and not trusting God fully like he should’ve. Finally after talking with my dad about when he asked my mom to marry him and after talking it over with several close friends and finally truly taking the matter to God in prayer, I knew it was time to look for a ring. My brother, David, hooked me up with a friend who got me a good rock at a decent price. It wasn’t everything I knew Jenn deserved but nice enough I didn’t think she’d say no. The perfect balance! ;P

The Set-Up

Ok, so I have the ring… but now the inevitable question was how should I ask her. This might seem like a silly question to some, I mean some flowers, music, candles and she’d be happy right? I have no doubt Jennifer would have been happy with that but she was dating a guy who doesn’t usually care for anything that can’t be described as “over the top”. Jennifer knows this about me. In fact, she threw a surprise birthday party once that literally included my favorite pizza, a house full of friends, and a room converted to a rave dance floor. It was epic. In any case, anything close to middle of the road would not do. I wanted to give Jenn a proposal that’d be a story she’d be proud to tell.

So I did what any guy would do to learn how to do something right… I looked up proposal ideas on YouTube. Some were just incredibly elaborate and frankly beyond my skill set. Some were ridiculously cliche and overly cheesy, even for me. I’d been going back and forth in my head with no clear plan in sight. Until… one Friday morning while I was working at the bank, it struck me. But before I could leave work, Jennifer and I had previously planned to have lunch that day. We ate together and I desperately tried to hold it together and show no sign of what was going to happen that night. It was convenient though that she had just got her nails done that morning. We made plans to share a pizza at her place that night while I worked on homework and said goodbye.

The plan became even clearer in my head and I set the wheels in motion! I talked to my manager who agreed to let me off early. I quickly texted my friend, Matt (could not have done this without his help), and told him that tonight was the night and that I needed his help (and his wife’s, Sarah) to prepare for my proposal to Jennifer. Matt was quick to make sure he could take an early day and help me out. I hurried home at around 3 that afternoon and started writing clues to send Jennifer on a scavenger hunt of places that were meaningful to us. Now the whole scavenger hunt thing is a little cliche, I admit, but it allowed me time to put the rest of my plan into action and frankly it was a great way to build up anticipation for Jennifer and remind her of some amazing times we had together. Matt helped me write clues that corresponded to each location I was sending her. Meanwhile, we had Walgreens making a huge poster of Jennifer’s face. We picked it up and pasted it onto a sandwich board we made out of cardboard. More on that later.

Matt and I then took off. First we went to my favorite pizza place, Humble Pie, where Jennifer and I had our first date and made a special request for a heart shaped pizza. The owner, an awesome different guy name Matt, agreed to deliver it to Jennifer in a box that I wrote a special message in. We then rushed off to place the clues at each location. It was a little confusing because we didn’t go in order of the clues, we went in order of what was closest on the way to the final destination. Did I mention I couldn’t have done this without Matt? After we dropped off the clues, we arrived at the spot I was going to propose to Jennifer… if she could figure out the clues that were hopefully placed correctly and not taken down by anyone…

The Hook

As Matt and I arrived at this destination, Jennifer had already started on the scavenger hunt. Pizza place Matt had already delivered the pizza. Just to clarify, his pizza place that he owns, Humble Pie, doesn’t make deliveries. But Matt is awesome and helped a brother out. He even once opened the restaurant just to serve us pizza on our anniversary. We even got engagement pictures taken at his restaurant. Anyways, awesome dude.

This is us with Matt.

Us with Matt

He delivers the pizza, and Jennifer is a little confused but she takes it and reads the message. The message written on the pizza box (in my “distinctive” handwriting) says, “Come Find Me -Alan”. Meanwhile, Sarah (friend Matt’s wife) sneaked some pictures of the delivery and then went in to visit Jennifer. The plan here being that Sarah would accompany Jennifer on the scavenger hunt, take pictures, and text us to make sure they were going to the right places. So off they went.

The Wire

I have to start be noting that Jennifer started the scavenger hunt before Matt and I had finished placing the last clues… fortunately each location was far enough away from one another that it took her over 2 hours to find them all, giving us ample time.

The first clue was up to Jennifer. We have an app called “Find My Friends” on our phones that allow us to know where the other is at all times. Some think that’s creepy but it’s actually very useful in eliminating texting trying to find out when we are on our way home from work or making sure we got somewhere safely. In any case, she tracks my phone to lead her to her first clue. The phone was in my room at the house I was renting with some friends at the time (the infamous Courtney Lane house). The first clue says, “Like changing a flat tire, it’s not going to be that easy.” This was a clue that would lead her to Flat Tire Burgers where we met for the very first time with a group of friends from church.

There she found her second clue, “Job 6:13 ‘Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?'” Kind of an obscure Bible verse, but our single’s group at church was name “Driven” and using a Bible verse would make her think of church. So she headed off to the Memorial Road Church of Christ building to the classroom we met in and found the third clue.

“If I only had a heart…” was the third clue which led her to a funeral home my friend Matt worked at. You see in October of the previous year we had a Halloween party there where Jennifer and I went as Vampire Dorothy and Axe Murderer Tin Man.  Here’s a picture of us there.

dorothy Tin Man

At the funeral home she found the fourth clue, “Oh give me a home where the elephant’s roam… or not.” This one took her to her old apartment where she had some upstairs neighbors that seemingly stomped around like elephants. This clue led her to her fifth clue. The fifth clue is kind of tough to explain and it includes an inside joke so I’ll leave some mystery here and move on. She found the sixth clue at my neighbors house and it said, “Caseum diem” which roughly translates from Latin to “Cheese the Day”. This clue took her to Humble Pie where we actually named a pizza there with 12 different cheese, Cheese the Day. There she found her last clue, the seventh clue (7 is the perfect number).

The seventh and last clue said, “Find me before midnight… or I’ll be scarred for life.” The “s” in the word “scarred” was drawn like a lightning bolt. This led Jennifer to where we had our first group date/adventure together which was seeing the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the last Harry Potter movie. Now neither of us are really big Harry Potter fans. But we had a group of friends going and I think her willingness to dress up in costume with me, to be silly and adventurous, it told me that this was a girl I could be myself around and go on adventures with. Anyone who knows us knows we share a love for watching movies and going on adventures together. Here’s a picture of us at that movie together.

Harry Potter

As Jennifer was arriving with Sarah, she was greeted by a large crowd of strangers shouting her name. Then she saw me wearing a sandwich board with a huge picture of her face on the front of it. She was a little confused and I was a little nervous, but we were both smiling at the sight of each other… So what happened while she was on her scavenger hunt that took her all over Oklahoma City and Edmond, OK?

The Sting

While Jennifer and Sarah were unraveling clues, Matt and I were in Bricktown OKC right in front of the movie theater Jennifer and I saw that midnight premiere in. I wore the sandwich board that featured Jennifer’s face, but also said underneath her picture… “Have you seen this girl?” It went on to explain I was looking for Jennifer and she was looking for me and that when and if she found me I would propose. I wandered the courtyard in front of that Harkins Theatre in Bricktown and asked strangers if they had seen this girl, pointing to the picture of Jennifer. They’d look at me strangely, say no, and I’d say thank you and go about asking someone else. Some people I think assumed I was a religious nut (guilty!) or that I was looking for money or signatures for some cause. Although, full disclosure, I did have a coffee mug set in front of me for awhile that said “honeymoon fund” on it. Some kids even got change out of an empty fountain and started to fill it.

Those who actually read the sign I was wearing would smile, take pictures, and ask details about where she was. Throughout this whole 2 hour waiting period, some people decided to stick around and wait for her to arrive. A group of missionaries passing through OKC stopped and prayed with me. Some people had plans to see a movie that night but skipped it to witness Jennifer’s arrival. I even had some ask to see the ring and try it on. I let them look but was not quite ready to let a stranger wear my future wife’s ring… duh…

I had Matt taking pictures and texting Sarah so that we could get updates on where they were at. When we knew they were close, I had the crowd that had gathered help me shout her name so that she could hear it from a ways off. As I saw her approaching I took the sandwich board off, greeted her with a kiss, and dropped to one knee. I said something along the lines of… “Jennifer, I love you. Would you do me the honor of being my best friend and my wife.” I seem to recall her saying yes. We hugged it out (some PG kissing) and then I raised my fist in triumph and announced to the crowd that “she said yes!” It wasn’t until after I shouted and raised my fist that I realized I hadn’t even put the ring on her finger yet!! I was a little excited to say the least. The crowd cheered, took pictures, congratulated us, and went on their merry way.

proposal

We then hugged our friends, Matt and Sarah, who we were so glad were able to help us and share in this special occasion. We shared stories, went to Marble Slab (who did not give us free ice cream, rude!!), and finally called it a night. Jennifer and I went back to her house and ate the then, cold pizza that started it all. Best pizza I ever ordered. 🙂

Not everything went perfectly, but it was a perfect night. We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for Matt and Sarah who helped us make that night so special, for Humble Pie Pizzeria (best Chicago deep dish) in Edmond, OK and it’s owner, Matt.

Jennifer, I love you so much. I know our life will give us plenty of days that won’t be as good as that wonderful day, but I’ll never doubt my decision to spend the rest of my days, good and bad, with you. ❤ XOXO

Happy Proposal Anniversary!!!

 

 

 

The Force Awakens Movie Theory

Rey Kylo

Theoretic AL Explanation of Rey’s Significance in Star Wars Episode 7

I recently purchased The Force Awakens on blu-ray and DVD from Target following it’s release. This was a movie my wife and I saw 4 times in theaters (the most I’ve ever watched any movie in a theater). Like many others who’ve criticized this movie, I agree that this new installment is heavily derivative of the original Star Wars trilogy. This move did make sense however, in the way that it needed to convince the existing fans that this would be a return to form for Star Wars (restoring faith lost by the prequels) and capturing the imagination of a new generation of fans that needed to know what Star Wars really is. What this movie lacked in originality it certainly made up for with exciting new characters. And the new character that this movie centers around is that of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.

Rey is the central figure of the movie, but she is also a character shrouded in mystery. Everyone is wanting to know, to quote Maz Kanata, “Who’s the girl?” Theory after theory have been spewed forth onto YouTube videos and Star Wars blogs. She’s a Skywalker! She’s a Kenobi! And the newest one… She’s the daughter of that one chick from that Rogue One teaser (Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones)! Whatever camp you fall into, there’s one theory that my wife suggested after we watched Episode 7 for the first time at home that really stuck with me and I believe now to be true. Regardless of Rey’s parentage, there’s one thing I know now for certain, more important than if Rey is related to Kylo Ren at all is this…

Kylo Ren saved Rey’s life, and she’s the only one who can save his!

Let me explain. Despite seeing the film 4 times in theaters, everyone had trouble remembering and taking in all the details of her vision sequence. So many voices and images going on at once. After researching some online and turning on the captions to actually read everything that is being said during this sequence, Rey hears the voices of Yoda, young and old Kenobi (Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness), Darth Vader’s breathing, and Luke saying “No!” Beyond that there are visions of the corridor in Cloud City where Luke and Darth Vader duel (and Luke looses his hand/lightsaber), Luke and R2D2 in the rain next to something burning (dead Jedi trainees?), a warrior about to kill someone but is killed by Kylo Ren instead, Kylo Ren standing with the Knight of Ren in the rain, and Rey being left on a planet with Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg) on the planet we meet Rey in at the beginning of the movie with a ship flying off into space. The vision ends with Kylo Ren about to fight Rey in the snowy forest (the future fight they have at the end of the film).

So here is my interpretation of all of that… right now we aren’t meant to know the parentage of Rey. I think the movie lends the casual viewer to assume she is Luke’s daughter (a decoy in my estimation) but I prefer the school of thought that she’s somehow a Kenobi instead. After all Skywalker V Kenobi is a major theme especially in the prequels. I doubt that studio would be bold enough to make her a nobody from nowhere. Star Wars is after all centered around one messed up family for the most part.

But here is the heart of the theory my brilliant wife presented to me. Everyone is assuming that in Rey’s vision, whoever dropped her off on that desert planet was her true parent(s). However, what if the person who dropped her off was someone who couldn’t bring himself to kill her along with the other Jedi’s in training? What is Rey’s life was spared by non other than Kylo Ren himself? Kylo Ren speaks or prays to the helmet of Darth Vader and confesses feeling “the call to the light” depicting his inner struggle. What if that struggle, the doubt planted in his head that he could never completely shift to the dark side is routed in his inexplicable inability to chop up young padawan Rey into little bitty pieces when he rebels against Luke? Obviously he sees Darth Vader as a type of role model figure for himself, and as we know, Darth Vader had no problem chopping up young padawan’s. Kylo Ren views this fact as a big question mark and therefore has to kill his father, Han Solo to prove to himself he is that committed. I think this adds some depth to his decision to kill Han which thus furthers the motivation behind Snoke’s desire to complete Kylo’s training.

If Kylo Ren couldn’t bring himself to kill Rey because of her youth and innocence (or possibly because he was charged with training her) but knew he needed to get rid of her because of her strengths in the force or perhaps a prophecy pertaining to her powers or ability to redeem/overcome Kylo Ren, then the next thing Kylo would have thought to do would be to force wipe her memory (this force ability does exist and is referred to as a “memory rub” according to wookieepedia)  and then hide her on a remote planet. While we can’t identify the ship that flies off in that scene, it does morph into a red slot in Rey’s vision, a slot quite similar to that of Kylo Ren’s mask. On top of all this, Kylo does tell Rey during their fight that she needs a teacher, he reacts quite knowingly infuriated when it’s reports “a girl” helped BB8 and FN2187 escape in a freighter, and I think the warrior Kylo kills in Rey’s vision is possibly one of his own Knights of Ren who was about to kill Rey before Kylo stops him. There’s even this guilty tone when he responds to Snoke’s inquiry if he’s felt the “awakening” in the force.

In any case, I think far more important than if Rey and Kylo might be related is what their relationship used to be. Rey may be the only person in the galaxy who can bring Kylo Ren, Ben Solo, back to the light.

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe and post your own thoughts and comments below!

 

 

Book Review AL: Soul Work

A youth minister’s perspective on Randy Harris’ “Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk”. 

I don’t read as much as I should. As such, I encouraged my partner in ministry here at Westhill, Clyde Slimp (my friend and pulpit minister), to suggest a book we could read through together and discuss on a weekly basis. Even before this conversation, he had bestowed “Soul Work” to me for my 28th birthday. Since I hadn’t picked it up yet, he immediately suggested we read and discuss this book.

I’ve heard Randy Harris speak on multiple occasions. Randy is a well known Church of Christ speaker and professor at Abilene Christian University. I’ve really enjoyed his lectures. Randy has a certain unapologetic frankness that makes lofty theological  discussions more conversational, and therefore more readable. Having never read Randy Harris’ works before, I began this book with no preconceived notions about his writing. I wasn’t even 100% what it was about. “Soul Work” as a title seemed  pretty generic and ambiguous.

Most of his chapters seemed to be directly related to the topic of prayer. Randy draws upon his life experience as a minister, a Christian college professor, and a 40 day prayer quest with hermits in South Texas to address some misconceptions serial church goers have about what prayer should be. He discusses the lack of silence built into the lives of Christians today and our addiction to busyness. One of my favorite quotes from his book about busyness and the church is, “We would get healthier if we committed to fewer things over longer periods of time. Churches ought to be steel when it comes to their mission and plastic when it comes to their methods.”

Our society’s value on staying busy may not be a new concept, but seeing a full day as the reason to slow down even more is something novel that Randy writes on. His suggestion is that somewhere in our day we attempt a 15 minute period of silence. My first thought was are we talking about meditation or prayer? 15 minute long prayer is pretty rare for me unless there’s a crisis looming. I simply don’t have that much to say to God. Which leads me to probably the greatest truth I got out of this book.

He writes about how when we spend time with someone we love deeply there are several extended periods of time were no words are exchanged. There are times when one is with their spouse or a close friend and there’s no agenda set on what’s going to happen when we are with each other, we simply want to BE in the presence of each other. This is an approach I’ve never applied to my prayer life. Every time I’ve come to God in prayer there is an agenda, a request, a confession, an expectation. Randy writes that this is his favorite way to pray; to sit in silence and just spend time with God, go on walks with God, just be with God. He writes he tries to be quiet before God and say to Him,”I don’t have any agenda. I don’t have any demands. I don’t have any expectations. I’m not asking you to heal anybody. I’m not asking you to fix any problems. I’m not asking you to give me anything. I’m not even spending my time thanking you for anything. I’m not in adoration mode. What I’m wanting to do, God, is just sit here and be with the one I love because that’s enough. And if there was nothing else in the world besides sitting here with you, that would be enough.” This notion was a very liberating one to me. I’ve always known there were different forms of prayer but I had never considered that God might just want to spend time with me too instead of just listening to me drone on and on.

“… you should not pray the way you think you should, you pray the way you can and God honors that.”

So much of this book touched on pursuing humility, rejecting worldly values disguised as acceptable norms for Christians, and truly recognizing the submission our lives should reflect to our God. It really challenged me to introspectively question my preconceived notions on prayer and the merits of keeping busy. I’d say Randy wrote this book to ministers but I see value for any serious Christian person. The book is written in a very easy to read way. I was concerned that the points he was drawing from hermits, monks, and saints (not to mention Jesus himself) were going to be a little too grandiose but he translates their radical nature to a very realistic expectation even a youth minister can apply.

I plan on reading Randy Harris’ two other books in this series, “Life Work” and “God Work” in the near future.