June 4th was my 11th wedding anniversary with my love. In a lot of ways I feel like we are just 2 kids playing house, still continuing to learn one another’s intricacies and extending grace upon grace to one another in our short comings. But, I also feel like we have gone through so much in our “just over a decade” of life together: moving multiple times, 2 seminary degrees, 3 children, full-time jobs, part-time jobs, entrepreneurship, church leadership and ministry. Though there have been good and more challenging times, I would still say “I Do” to my husband in a heartbeat. He’s my favorite.
And our story is my favorite. ❤
Last year, as our 10th anniversary approached, I began a series of posts sharing how Blake and I met and the story of our time dating. A year ago, a whole entire year, on the actual day of our anniversary, I wrote these words:
So Blake didn’t drive up my car to propose, so he didn’t surprise me at Christmas Conference, but beyond my knowledge he was in works with my whole family and best friends to propose in what can only be called the most amazing, surprising, romantic proposal of all time (not biased here at all).
I’m going to leave the last little bit of our story hanging while I go and work on things around the house. I have learned one of the ways to my man’s heart and I’m going to go pursue blessing him while he is away at work. (Meaning, I’m going to fold and put away the rest of the laundry and get my house put together.)
My goal is to finish the rest of the story later today and post it tonight, but we shall see! Thanks for reading along. I can’t wait to share the final bits with you!
And, then NOTHING! I never finished the story! I left the story hanging! Those final bits of the story never made their way here, until today.
So, for those few of you who have followed along and have wanted to know the end of the tale, I’m happy to wrap it up and finish the story of how I became Mrs. Blake Hollander.<3
(This is a two part wrap up, but I promise it won’t take me a whole year to finish up!)
The date was January 1st, 2005. I had an evening planned with my 2 college roommates/best friends for an after Christmas dinner and evening out in uptown Charlotte. I was at home getting ready for the night. My mom kept coming into my room to make some suggestions. “Wouldn’t you like to dress up a little more? Should you fix your hair a little nicer? Have you brushed your teeth?” In hindsight I understand what she was doing, but in the moment I wanted to say, “Back up Momma! I’m just hanging out with the girls! I’ll wear my jeans, barely brush my hair and teeth if I want to!”
My stealthy momma, unbeknownst to me, snuck away and called one of my friends in a panic. “She’s wearing jeans! She’s not fixing her hair! Call her!” Soon after, I get an unsuspecting call from said friend who shares that the restaurant we are going to is a little nicer and that she and our other friend are going to be dressing up a little. After that revelation I changed into a nicer outfit, fixed my hair a little nicer, and even brushed my teeth.
Once I was all ready and and on the way to meet the girls I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize. The message said something along these lines:
Hey Heather. This is Blake. My phone battery died so I’m using my roommate’s phone. Just wanted to say have a great night out with the girls. Call me later and tell me all about it.
Sweet boy, right?!? To my knowledge, he was in Texas at a conference. I had no reason to think otherwise, and his nice text message sealed in my mind that he was NOT in North Carolina. What I didn’t know was that it actually was his roommate sending me the message just to throw me off. I was clueless, absolutely clueless. 🙂
I finally connected with my friends and we began our drive to the restaurant. In my hands were their Christmas gifts since that was the reason we were getting together; to have our best friend Christmas celebration. Just before arriving to the restaurant, I said these words. Literally, these words ACTUALLY came out of my mouth:
“Y’all, do you think it’s weird that I KNOW when Blake is going to propose? I know it’s going to be the next time he comes out to visit.”
Then I said something else like feeling strange that it won’t be a surprise at all and some other whiny stuff. See I love surprises and I really hoped the proposal would be a surprise. My sweet friends both responded with:
“No! Not at all! You know Blake. He’ll do something super sweet and it will be really awesome. You shouldn’t worry.”
How they kept from smiling or letting on what was JUST about to happen is a mystery to me. The kept it together so well and relieved my whiney heart a bit.
We parked the car and walked towards our dining location, Christmas gifts in hand, and came upon a beautiful courtyard in the middle of the city where the entrance to the restaurant was located. In the middle of the courtyard was a water fountain with benches around it, and on one of those benches I was able to just barely notice a man sitting there. I only noticed his form and not any of his face.
We moved closer and my friends became sort of anxious. I brushed it off and kept walking. Then the man sitting in the distance stood up and started walking towards us, but I brushed that off as well. I was there to have dinner with my friends, right?? Finally, one of my friends was much more visibly anxious, the man kept walking towards us, and I started putting things together and said,
“Who is that man? Who is that man?”
It was sinking in that this was not going to be just a night out with my best friends. Though I had their gifts and was prepared to celebrate with them, it was clear that this night was going to hold much deeper significance to me and my future.
Until that moment I hadn’t noticed the hundreds of tea light candles surrounding the outer area of the water fountain in the center of the courtyard, and the rose petals leading me up to “the man” were just coming into view. Then, there he was, “the man.” My Blake.
To say I was in shock is an understatement. Even though my eyes saw him and knew he was there, my brain hadn’t quite caught up. The girls took the Christmas gifts, those still in my hands, and walked away. And I walked up to my wonderful, surprising, thoughtful, handsome, amazing love who had just pulled off the biggest surprise of my life.
He led me over to the bench where he had been sitting, and after a time of sweet words and expressions of his love, he got down on his knee and asked me to be his wife. Of course, my response was a resounding YES! And just like that, he became my fiancé. We enjoyed an outdoor dinner under the stars where the unseasonably warmer conditions were quite welcomed. After a little while, my sweet friends joined us, a perfect way to meld my past and future.
I was going to become Mrs. Blake Hollander. ❤
The conclusion to my oh so wonderful tale will be here for you on Friday.
Be sure to check back then!