Annmarie and Zach

How We Met

As a 6th grade girl in middle school, you KNOW who the older cute guys are even if they don’t know you. You have those crushes that will never become anything, and if you’re lucky, you just might make eye contact with one. They won’t remember anything, nor will it affect their day, but for you- it changes your world at that moment.

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I can still remember 6th grade me walking down the halls of Good Hope Middle School in West Monroe, La. I remember heading to the 6th-grade beginner choir class while the 8th grade “Men’s Choir” (lol they thought they were men..) was leaving. I remember passing by THE. ZACH. AINSWORTH. in his yellow polo shirt like it was yesterday. It was one of those moments in life that made you feel like you were living in slow motion. I swear if someone could see and feel what happened that day, you would have pictured Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray in the slow-motion scene from Another Cinderella Story… no lie!

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Fast forward to my 8th-grade year. Zach was a now a sophomore at West Monroe High School doing his own thing as a baseball player, football player, school clubs, he was the later the prom king to my homecoming queen, the principal’s son, etc. A little about Zachary, yes he’s an athlete and the principal’s son, but he’s not the normal “get it all handed to ya” kind of guy. He works so hard for the things he has, has an incredible attitude while doing it, and is so humble. He could work behind the scenes all day with no recognition, but if the job was done right then it was all he needed.

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He is steady, consistent, and very structured. While Zachary was in middle school and a Freshman in high school, he dated other girls and once those relationships ended he could have had any other girl waiting in line for him. He was kind, cute, and charming. For whatever reason, he noticed little me. And I do mean little me, as I was 14 (barely) and not even in high school. I’d like to think of myself as not prideful, but I don’t know if I would have EVER dated a “baby middle schooler” once I was in high school trying to keep a decent sophomore reputation. Lol!

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September 25th, 2011 is a date that changed my life forever. A little about myself, I have grown up in the church as did Zachary. We went to the same church all our lives but never hung in the same crowd being that we were two grades apart. I LOVE to sing and am heavily involved in our worship ministry at our church. I’ve sung as far back as I can remember and apparently caught Zachary’s eye some time in the process. On that September Sunday night, we had a “Dinner on the Grounds” event at our church. While Zach wasn’t there that night, one of his girlfriends (just a cool older girl to me at the time, and now one of my best friends) was there. She came grinning ear to ear heading straight to me way too excited to talk to a random 8th-grade girl, so I thought. All I could think was, “Why in the world is Malia running to talk to ME?!” “You have GOT to get home and check your computer for a special Facebook message waiting for you…do you want me to tell you who it’s from?!? Okay, I’ll tell you!!!” I was still at a loss for words, but didn’t have to bend her arm to tell me who it was from, so why not appease her. “ZACH. ZACH AINSWORTH.” **que wide eyes, dropped jaw, in-shock look**. Needless to say, I begged my Mom to drive fast to get home!

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The conversation went like this… ;)

Zachary: Hey you probably don’t know me and this is really random but I think you’re cute and you’re a great singer!

Annmarie: Of course I know you! And thank you!!:)

Annmarie and Zach's Engagement in Whitaker’s Point in Arkansas

Fast forward a few messages…

Zachary: I bet you didn’t expect it to be from me.

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And that’s exactly how the rest of our story seemed to be. A crazy love that I never expected to be. Zachary was the cute older guy, the heartthrob crush that should have never happened. This relationship should have never been, but it did. And it is.

I was 14 and he was 16 when it all started. I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 yo, so he steadfastly and consistently pursued my heart when the world would say there’s nothing in it for him, so move on. At that point, there weren’t any fun dates or exciting experiences like his friends got to have, just seeing each other at church and baseball games. He saw my heart. He saw me for me. There was no pressure to act like someone I wasn’t, no persuasion to do things I wasn’t comfortable with, and never guilting me with the fact that I “wasn’t allowed.” In the consistency of his heart, us hanging out at church, and finally years passing, we were finally able to go on real dates and even ride together in his truck. And boy let me tell you was it a long-awaited time to get to be able to finally date this guy. From the homecomings and proms to my first and only guy to kiss. From cheering him on in the stands to late night talks… he’s been my everything, and I’m so blessed it’s all been with him.

How They Asked

After 7.5 years of being together, we were at very different stages in life than just being in high school roaming the halls together. While we both knew in high school that we wanted to marry each other without a doubt, now marriage was actually getting closer. He graduated high school my sophomore year, went to La Tech for forestry, and is now working as a forester in Ruston La. I’m in Nursing School at the University of Louisiana Monroe keeping my time VERY busy with school and babysitting. While I knew that getting married was on the radar for us, I also knew that Zachary kept telling me “3 more months” (for the past year and a half but who’s counting.. lol me).

Every year, we take a weekend with my parents and friends to go on a canoe trip in Ponca, AR. After canoeing on Saturday, we hiked Whitiker’s Point to end our trip on Sunday morning before heading home to Louisiana.

Backtrack: I had my nails painted for Easter that weekend before and was a little hopeful that it might happen sometime soon with the holidays and Spring Break, but told myself to trust my gut. There was no way he would propose right now, he’s set on more time and if I focus so much on us not being engaged then I’ll miss out on what’s right in front of me and ruin the trip for myself. The actual morning of the proposal, I told my sister very frustrated, “Well Allyse, it’s a good thing I don’t need my nails painted for anything because they’re already chipping!!” She then told me, “For real, why don’t you just take them off then?! It doesn’t matter..” I knew then in the cabin that my sister would NEVER let me get engaged with jankie nails, so it couldn’t happen this weekend.

On the drive to the starting point of the hike, my sister very annoyingly suggested that we just skip the hike completely and drive home since we had a Nursing Exam the next morning that we needed to study for (story of my life). Between these comments and so many more, any little bit of hope I still had for “what if’s” was completely shut down.

On the 1.5 hour hike up the mountain, we finally got close to the point and I hollered back to Zachary that I could see Whitiker’s Point. Little did I know, that only made Zach get in panic mode. He hid behind a rock to get my sister’s boyfriend to dig in his backpack for the ring. After dumping the whole backpack out on the side of the mountain to find the ring box, he found it hidden in the bottom of the bag.

Once getting to Whitaker’s Point, we took picture after picture with all the best angles and enjoyed the view. I enjoyed it obviously but later found out that Zach’s stomach was in knots too much for him to even care about paying attention to our view.

Just before it was time for us to leave, my dad suggested for us to take a picture in the center of the cliff now that everyone was finally out of the way. After taking the picture, I turned to walk away but felt Zachary pulling me back to him. I turned straight past him thinking he was pointing at the bird we all watched earlier. Well, to my surprise, he was pulling me back to talk. There was no question anymore to me of what was really going on that hike. It was more than just a normal day of adventure and excitement. On the mountain, he told me, “You weren’t expecting this were you.” And April 28th was nothing I expected. It was the day he promised to love and protect me with everything in him. He promised to put God first, me second, and himself last. I know that his heart is to serve and love me just as He first loved us.

Saying yes to a man that will serve, protect, and love you more than his own body is an easy yes to say. There was no question at that moment. This was the dream boy, the 6th-grade crush, the middle/high school sweetheart, the distance of colleges, and the overwhelming love that moves you to tears. The moment I dreamed of not just since I was a little girl, but since it was with the guy who opened my eyes to selfless love. I thank God for that boy that went out on a limb to pursue me. It was nothing I expected as an 8th-grade girl, and just as he told me on that mountain, it was nothing I expected then.

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