Yesterday, Matthew asked Joanna to marry him. He had spent the past week working out all the details. He wanted it to be a surprise - what better time than the day she flew back from visiting her brother in Colorado?
On Sunday night, the Cliffords (Joanna's parents) and Rick and I, along with Matthew, went out for dinner and discussed all of the plans. We agreed to meet in Stratford at a jewelry store highly recommended by Mike. Tuesday night, Matt rushed from work and had a shower at Aunt Betty's, so he wouldn't have to go all the way home first. We all met at the jewelry store. Jeff, the owner, was very knowledgeable, friendly, helpful, and above all, patient. Matt agonized over the proper ring. He knew that Joanna didn't want one that was too high, nor too elaborate. Her tastes are elegant and minimal, rather than showy and gaudy!
After nearly two hours, Ray spotted a ring that had a garnet shouldered by a couple of diamonds, in a unique setting. "What about this one, Matt?" Not sure. Would Jeff be willing to take out the garnet and pop in that beautiful, registered, Canadian diamond? Yes!
Half an hour later, Jeff came out with the perfect ring! Matt said, "Oh, YES!" Absolutely perfect.
We went out to dinner (again!) and Matt kept staring at the diamond. His plan was to meet Joanna at the airport with her parents, then come to Stratford where we would have dinner reservations for 7 pm. In the meantime, we'd go to the park and chat - the very park where Matt and Joanna enjoyed their first walk together, feeling awkward, yet praying for wisdom. "Is this the person that God intended for me to marry?"
The plan was in place, but the weather forecast was horrible. The weatherman was predicting 100km winds, sleet, and rain. Joanna *hates* to be cold. How was Matt going to carry out his plan?
We spent the week praying that God would move the clouds and give us a beautiful fall day. When Rick and I left Guelph, the clouds were ominous, black, dripping with heavy rain. I prayed. We drove towards Kitchener, and the rain pelted down. Oh, Lord!
As we approached Stratford, I said to Rick, "Look! The sun is shining over Stratford!" And it was. The entire city was surrounded by banks of clouds, the dark gray, purple kind that look like storm clouds. Yet the sun was shining over the city.
We met at Tim Horton's for a coffee, and after greeting Joanna, I announced that our reservations were for 7 pm. Rick said, "What will we do in the meantime?"
Darlene piped up, "Let's go to the park!" Joanna didn't have a clue.
At the park, a group of tourists wanted their picture taken, and Rick got roped into taking picture after picture with the myriad of cameras the folks owned. When they were done, I said, "Now you can get our picture!" (I just happened to have my camera with me!) So, we all climbed onto the little bridge and posed for a snapshot.
As we were heading over the bridge, Matt suddenly announced, "I'd like to go for a walk with Joanna! Is that okay, Mr. Clifford?"
"Sure," he responded, and Darlene added, "But we'll be watching you!"
Matt's plan was to take Joanna down a little path, through an arbour, into a secluded area where there was a bench she could sit on. When he got there, he asked, "Would you like to sit for a bit?"
"It's WET!" she shot back. Okay. Plan B.
They climbed the stairs and headed down a path through the woods, chatting as they walked. Suddenly, Matt stopped abruptly. He turned one way, then the other, and plunked himself down on one knee. Joanna gasped, then her eyes flooded with tears.
We don't know what exactly was said, because the kids want to keep that to themselves. But we know that Joanna said YES!!!!
God is so very good. I remember watching Joanna as a wee little girl with a brilliant smile. I have watched her grow up her entire life, and prayed for her, and hinted at Matthew on occasion. Yet, without God's intervention, without His orchestration of our lives, my son wouldn't be marrying my dear friends' daughter.
We praise God, for His timing, for His control of the clouds, for bringing these two young people together. Soon we'll be planning and making preparations for a wedding - our joy knows no bounds!