How We Met: Shands and I are high school sweethearts. We met in 10th grade at Greenbrier High School in Evans, GA on January 2006. He was 16 and I was 15. He was kind of known to be a little bit of a player, and I was known as the ‘good church-girl’ that didn’t date anyone. Needless to say, we became best friends and then 4 months later started to date. I wasn’t looking for relationship when this happened. Shands was my first boyfriend, and it was a miracle that I was allowed to date because my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to until I was done with college! (Typical Asian parents). It wasn’t an easy dating relationship because my parents were very strict. The first 3 years of dating in high school, I was not allowed to ride in the car with Shands or go on a date with him without a chaperone. It got to the point where I almost broke up with him because I thought my parents were being too strict on him, even though I know they were just trying to protect us. He refused to let me break up with him and told me time and time again that I was worth it. I was worth having to abide by a huge list of rules and not having an ‘easy’ dating relationship. So, our dates consisted of either my brothers, his brothers or our friends being there with us. We also spent a lot of time in each other’s homes getting to know each other’s families and growing more in love with each other. I fell in love with his patience, selflessness, silliness and perserverence he had throughout our relationship.
We went through all our high school memories together. We went to prom together, both Junior and Senior year, we learned how to drive together, we went to church together in youth group, went to football games together, we graduated together…the works! Then I went off to college in Athens, Georgia at the University of Georgia where we were FINALLY able to go on a date by ourselves. And boy did we take advantage of this! Every time Shands came to visit me on the weekends we would go on so many dates and do what we love best: eat A LOT of great food, go to all the UGA sporting events, walk through the botanical gardens, worship together on the Sundays at church, watch movies together, and just go on all sorts of adventures together as college students in this new city! Even though we had a long distance relationship for 5 years, it was still full of the best memories because it was like a whole new relationship!
We knew early on in our college careers that we were wanting to get married, but with school, it was difficult to find the right time to do so. While we wanted to be together, we also wanted to support each other’s dreams. My dream was to become a Pharmacist, his was to be a Medical Dosimetrist in Radiation Oncology. It took a lot of time, dedication, and patience but we continued to pray for the right time and moment for us to get engaged and move on with our lives as husband and wife. Thankfully, I was able to finish my last 2 years of Pharmacy School in Augusta, GA where Shands was also getting his degree at the local Medical College. We knew once I moved back, we would want to get married soon after I graduated (we had been dating for about 7 years at this point, so we were more that ready!) Around our 8 year mark of dating, he asked me to be his future wife, and well, the rest in history!
how they asked: It was better than a dream… A week prior to our engagement, Shands’ mom texted me informing me that they were hosting a graduation party at Lake Thurmond for Shands on Sunday, May 17 2015. She asked me to bake my speciality chocolate pies for the party! Little did I know, I was baking pies for my own engagment party! This was a very busy day for me because I had to go to church that morning, my best friend Morgan’s bridal shower, then ”Shands’ graduation party.” On top of that, my first pharmacy rotation was the next morning at 7 AM and was I nervous about starting so I wanted to have a relaxing evening the night before (this was one of those wishes I’m glad didn’t come true). Of course, Morgan knew all about the engagement the whole time. She and I had planned for me to ride with her to her bridal shower and she would just drop me off with Shands after her shower at a local gas station by the lake. In hindsight, I could tell she was rushing to get me to my engagement because I kept telling her that it was okay if I was late to the graduation party, yet she was adamant about leaving on time!
Morgan and her mother then dropped me off at the gas station where Shands was waiting patiently for me. As I was about to get in the car, Shands tells me that he needed to pick up a few snacks and drinks for the party (He told me afterwards he didn’t really need to get anything, he was just delaying time so that Morgan and one of my other best friends, Joeanna who was driving up from South GA, could get to the engagement party on time). I could tell he was acting a little funny in the gas station, but I thought it was just because he was stressed about getting everything set up for his ‘graduation party.’ We left in Shands’ new Ford Fusion, that he had just purchased the day before and I sent out a snapchat (displayed below) to all my friends prior to my engagment not knowing that many of the recipeients were already together waiting to suprise me!
In order to get to the party, we had to go over a dam over the lake. This dam was the site of our very first date when we started dating in 10th grade. As we approached the dam, Shands tells me that we still have an hour before the party starts and asked if I wanted to pull over to walk across the dam. I didn’t find this suspicious because we had gone walking on the dam before just for fun, and Shands has always been a romantic and we’ve always been a couple that loves to do fun, adventurous and spontaneous things when the opportunity arises
As we were walking across the dam, Shands and I were just having a normal conversation and then I mention that I am starting to get hot (it is the month of May and so the summer heat was working against Shands’ plan). He then convinces me to make it to at least the ledge overlooking the lake that has a beautiful view. As we continue to walk, he starts telling me sweet, kind words about how he loves me so much and that I have been his best friend for the past 8 years. Of course, at this point, I start to figure out what is going to happen. I start to get quiet and awkard not knowing how I should act or what I should say. We finally make it to the ledge and he continues to say sweet and kind things to me (most of it I can’t quite remember because I was freaking out the whole time!). Then, IT HAPPENED! Shands got down on one knee and he asked ME to be his wife and partner for the rest of our lives! All I remember from that moment was tears of joy! Joy because God had given me the BEST He could give me. He gave me a man with the most selfless heart, a gentle & humble spirit, patience, and SO much love. This was the moment I had dreamed about since I was a young girl, and it was finally becoming a reality…only it was better than a dream! We had been through so much to get to that moment where we were on the dam, and all the emotions of joy and thankfulness came flooding in (ironic, right?!).
One of Shands’ friends, Wes, popped out from behind a building disguised as a fisherman and took pictures of our special moment! Another one of his friends, Nick, had also set up a GoPro camera video taping the whole thing!
Nick came and picked us up in his car and took us to the next SURPRISE! As I came to suspect, the ‘graduation’ party turned out to be our ENGAGEMENT PARTY that Shands and his family had secretly been putting together for months! As we pulled into the party, all of our closest friends, families, and spiritual counselors were there to celebrate with us! We laughed, cried, prayed, cried more, opened new gifts, took TONS of pictures and ate yummy tacos together at the beautiful lake camping site called The Point! (A huge shoutout to Janie and Annette for preparing the food!) Shands even put together a slide show on a digital picture frame displaying pictures of him planning the engagement. He took pictures throughout the whole process from picking out the ring in Atlanta with my best friend Joeanna, to even asking my parents for their blessing. There was even a beautifully decorated engagement cake that his parents had gotten for us! I was completely overwhelmed with all the love and support from everyone there (including many out of towners!) It was better than I had ever imagined and I could not believe how much time and effort Shands had put into making this day one the most special days of my life!
Now, I am so excited about wedding planning and being MARRIED to Shands! I know that he is going to be the best HUSBAND and best FATHER one day because I know he will NEVER stop giving and he will never stop loving. His love for the Lord is REAL. If there’s one thing I’m sure of in this lifetime, it’s that God is real because I experience God’s love for me daily through Shands’ love for me. I do believe in true love and I know it’s only through Christ that Shands is able to love me the way that he does, and I know that through Christ I am able to love him in return the way that I do. We want our future marriage and family to be fully commited to each other and more importantly, fully commited to the Lord! We give God everything. We give him our lives and our future to use us to carry out HIS will and we give God all the GLORY! I pray that people look at our relationship and are able to see the love of Christ!