How We Met
Although we started going to school together in fifth grade, I would say we “met” on a plane ride home from our eighth grade school trip to Washington D.C. I had an exit row seat assigned to me, but I was two months shy of 15, so I was asked to change seats when I checked in for my flight. One of the few people in our grade who was already 15 happened to be alphabetically right beside Miss Madeline Mittel. I got his seat, he got mine. He may have gotten more leg room, but I got a wife out of it…
We talked the whole flight, and, being the giant nerd that I am, I had never before had such easy-going conversation with a girl, especially such a beautiful girl. Although I didn’t start crushing on her until a few months later, this was definitely the beginning of our friendship. Without this first conversation, I’m not sure I would have asked her to homecoming freshman year of high school. And freshman year homecoming night is when I started crushing on her. Then we got to enjoy three more homecomings and two proms together over the years that were to come!
how they asked
Madeline Rose Mittel is a special girl; I knew I was going to have to ask her to marry me in a special way. And I knew we would want to celebrate with our families and friends afterwards. Because of that, way back in August when I asked her dad’s permission to marry her, I also asked him about a date around Thanksgiving when they would be in town, because I knew that’s when our friends would also be in town. He said November 26—exactly 6 months before what will be our wedding day, May 26!
I wanted it to be sentimental, special, and beautiful, but not overly-elaborate. Something we would remember and cherish forever, but didn’t have a high chance of going terribly wrong.
So I took her to Lakeside Park in Highland Park, where we had been on a peaceful picnic a few months before, during the summer. I had my sister-in-law (my brother’s wife) and future sister-in-law (Madeline’s little sister) lay out a blanket with white rose petals scattered on and around it. On the corner of the blanket was my bible, a letter for Madeline, and the ring box.
We parked near the end of the lake and walked. She asked me, “Is it happening today?” I responded, “I don’t know. Maybe we’re just going on a walk.” She knew I wanted her to marry me, but that I hadn’t officially asked her yet because I wanted it to be a very special proposal! We held hands and walked on the sidewalk by the lake until we approached the blanket.
She said, “Oh my gosh, it’s happening!” I smiled and grabbed my bible. I read her Ephesians 5:1-2, which says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
I read this Scripture because it captures what I think love is and what I want my relationship with Madeline to be defined by. When I tell Madeline that I love her, I want her to know that I am not merely expressing a feeling that I am experiencing in that moment. I am expressing a sacrificial, unconditional, and active choice. That for the rest of our lives, no matter what comes our way, I will lay down my selfish desires in order to protect, provide, and cherish her. That no matter what she does, I will choose to forgive her, to have her, and to hold her. That I will be looking for ways to serve her and won’t be passive in our relationship, even when I’m tired.
Then I read her a letter that I had been preparing/brainstorming/writing for the whole week leading up to the proposal day. Anytime she asked me, “What are you doing?” during Thanksgiving week, I would say, “Working on a short story.” I did have a short story due soon in my creative writing class, but I wouldn’t work on it until after November 26.
I wrote the letter down for Madeline rather than just saying it to her for two reasons. I knew I’d be feeling all sorts of things, including nerves, and I wanted to make sure I said everything that I wanted to say to her. Secondly, because I knew she would be feeling all sorts of emotions too, and that she would not be able to remember everything that I said to her. I wanted us to be able go back to the letter later that night. And the next day. And every day that we want! So that she can be reminded of how I want to love her and of how much I love her. And I can be reminded of the promises I have made to her and stay true to them.
After that, there was NO more delaying. My heart was pounding as I put my bible and the letter down and went down to grab the ring box. I got down on my knee, looked into her beautiful green eyes, and said, “Madeline Rose Mittel, will you marry me?” With joyful tears in her eyes, she said yes! A moment I will remember forever.
On the recommendation of a friend, I asked Tanner Beason if he would be willing to capture the moment. He did such a wonderful job of not only capturing the moment, but also taking some beautiful pictures for us afterward.
Then we went to dinner with our families. Then, we had a party that Madeline did not know about in order to celebrate with our friends. They all wrote us prayers/notes of encouragement. It was such a perfect day that I’m sure we will relive many times during our life together.