Monday, May 25, 2009

Part VI: Fast Forward (100th Post)

This is the sixth part of Beauty and the Beast (BatB): The Linda and Patrick Story and a special tribute for my 100th blogpost (finally). On the main blog, there is a list of all the chapters if you need to get caught up.

I thought I would fast forward a bit (2.5 years or so) to our engagement. Our courtship was a great season for God to grow us into two people who were ready to be married. I reserve the right to go back and capture some of that, but in this episode I'll chronicle the period of time surrounding our engagement.

It was fall 1992, Linda and I had a few conversations at that point and the general consensus was that we should get engaged even though the wedding wouldn't be until late 1993 or early 1994. Linda was almost done with her bachelors and would only have her credential (late 1993) and student teaching (early 1994) to go.

We started shopping for rings and we found out together what Linda wanted. This is one of the first doses of reality for us as a starry eyed young couple. See we just thought all of this stuff was just supposed to happen. Rings, wedding plans, apartments, furniture would all just fall out of the sky. Ring shopping was so...practical, unlike it is portrayed in Hollywood. That isn't a bad thing, because I think we kept it romantic and fun, just a bit of a wake up call that life isn't a Hollywood scripted movie.

Asking for her hand
Anyways, we had some great ideas on what Linda wanted after some shopping and investigating cut, clarity, and color as well as settings. But I still had to "ask for her hand." At this point I already knew Dean and Sandy Durand so well, but I knew this was a rite of passage that should not be skipped. So I called them up and set up a time to come over and have "the talk."

Now you have to imagine this...Dean (aka Mr. Durand) is an intimidating figure. He is over 6 ft. tall and a tough as nails 32 year veteran of the Glendale Police Dept. He rides Harleys, owns guns, and loves his daughter to no end. At the time, I looked kinda like a Filipino gang banger when I wasn't at work, where I wore suits. I could not have imagined anyone with Mr. Durand's resume to even allow anyone like me to date his daughter, much less marry her.

My imagination went wild...this was before Gran Torino, but I felt a lot like Thao coming to meet Clint Eastwood's character in that movie.

You can probably imagine what was running through my of Dean cleaning his guns and them going off by "accident." But in fact, that was very much not the case and never has been or ever will be.

The Durands welcomed me into the family. I distinctly remembered Dean reaching out his hand to me and saying, "Welcome to our family son." Talk about being moved! It was all I could do to not cry right there in front of him...

Buying the ring
Then Dean gave me some great news, he had a contact in the diamond industry in downtown Los Angeles. He took Linda and I there soon after that meeting.

Imagine driving through the worst parts of downtown L.A. and then parking your car there and walking in to a dirty decrepit building. Now imagine the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars of diamonds are kept right in that very building, in office suites for diamond brokers...weird.

We went to the office of Dean's friend. The door was more like a bank vault door with a gigantic state of the art peep-hole. His friend let us in and behind him was an identical vault door, which he had to unlock with a combo and I think a key to open...just in case he was held up I guess. He shut both doors behind us, which was a bit un-nerving, but Dean and this guy seemed to know each other really well.

He proceeded to show us many many diamonds after we told him the shape, cut, color, and clarity we were looking for. Everything, pouches and display boards was covered in black velvet. We found the one we wanted an absolutely brilliant marquis shaped stone. We weren't really thinking we'd buy the setting there too, but he was showing us what it would look like on some settings and BAM there it was, the perfect setting too!

He wrote some prices on a piece of paper and shoved them my way. I looked at them in disbelief and shoved them back nodding my head. I'm pretty sure I would have had to pay at least double that in a store. He told us when the ring would be ready and he let us out the two vault doors and back into the harsh reality of downtown L.A.

Popping the question
Now Linda knew I had the ring ordered and ready to pick up. So that took the surprise out of proposing to her...or at least she thought. Here's how it went down.

One day I called her up and asked, "Hey do you have such and such a day open?" I don't remember the exact date, but December 5th sounds about right. She asked me what for and I told her a carriage ride and picnic in the park. She was thrilled and said yes, all the while she is thinking, "Oh predictable old Patrick, how cute that's how he's going to propose." Little did she know!

It was a beautiful day out in Burbank, CA. There is a great park where you can ride horses and such. The company that I had used did the whole shooting match; a horse drawn carriage ride through the streets and through the park with a gourmet picnic all set up and a carriage ride back. Later I learned that Linda had told her parents I was going to propose that day.

The carriage ride was everything we expected...I highly recomend it. Then we sat down and had the greatest picnic lunch you can imagine with Martinelli's and cold something or other soup, all on china no less. I gave her my jacket because it was quite brisk and I had something in there, not on purpose, that was the size and shape of a ring box and she got excited. I had something prepared. I read to her how I loved her in the five biblical words for love.

We finished the wonderful meal and went back to the carriage. At this point, Linda's mind is reeling, "When will he propose? In the car, at my parents, when?" I think she got worried. We got back to her parents house and they were waiting with humungous smiles on their faces looking at her ring finger. Linda was shaking her head and then they had huge looks of disbelief. I was only half smiling inside...and I left them like that.

I found out later that Linda was deliciously frustrated. She was a bit upset for being duped, but glad to know I wasn't THAT predictable. She had no idea when, where, how, what, etc I would propose. Every day was like amazing torture!

Two weeks later, I think it was December 19th, I surprised her. We were having our annual college group Christmas party. ALL of our closest friends were there and most of them were in on the dealio.

We had a tradition of showing slideshows (on one of those old slideshow thingys where you put picture slides into it and it carousels them around). At the end, I came up and said, "I have a story to tell about a couple. We'll call the guy; Pat and the gal; hmmm Linda." The jig was up and Linda knew what was coming...we both started crying and so did everyone in the house. I told our story through slides and concluded by kneeling next to her and asking her to marry me. Luckily she said yes!

I am not kidding when I say a) all of our closest friends were there and b) there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I'm talking tough guys were sobbing uncontrollably. It was a magical moment, one that we'll never forget! I wish I could share it with you in a video, but even though we had three, count them (3), cameras going not one captured the moment. Trust me when I say it was absolutely amazing!

I think Mary, Jesus' earthly mother, had it right when she "treasured these things in her heart." I think God wanted me, maybe us, to do the same thing and that's why those cameras didn't work. I don't know, but I do treasure that time in my heart and will forever. Times are so precious...I don't know that we've ever had such a large tight knit group as that or ever will again. I am so thankful that God gave us that time, that season in our lives. I will always treasure it and all the times I get to share with my bride!

Thus ended our 2.5 year courtship period and began our 13 month engagement. We would be married January 8, 1994. We have enjoyed, so far 15 years of marriage and almost 20 years of knowing and dating each other. I am honestly more in love with Linda now and grow more and more in love with her every day.

I love you my beautiful bride and soulmate...thanks for sticking with me for so long, even through that fake proposal. To many many more years ahead!

That concludes Part VI of BatB. As usual keep the comments flowing. I hope writing the next part doesn't take another seven!


Fromm, or Stauffenberg?
The Choice is Yours, My Friend

Jesus came to release prisoners and heal the broken-hearted. The amazing thing is that he allows us to serve him in that great calling. For some reason, though, there are very few who will commit their lives to him, in the service of others.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hotel for Dogs

Hotel for Dogs
Got Kids?
Adoption Is An Option

At any given time in the United States there are approximately 130,000 foster children waiting to be adopted. That is a daunting number, unless we realize that each of those is an individual case and each of us could help one or two.

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