Sarah and Micah

How We Met

My fiance is an Officer in the Marine Corps, currently active duty and in training, and I just started grad school for my Masters of Fine Arts. Needless to say, you can read all about it, but this proposal could not have taken me more off guard. I wasn’t expecting it for another year! We met in college at Liberty University, in Lynchburg VA. I am originally from Long Island, NY (born and raised) and Micah is from a small town village in Kingsley, MI. We couldn’t have been two more unlikely people, and he actually asked me out four times our freshman year before I said yes to being his girlfriend! LOL

I had never dated anyone before, barely even ever had a crush, so I definitely didn’t see myself ever as the kind of girl that would ever settle down or date anyone. Needless to say, everything changed by the fifth time he asked me out. When he asked me to be his girlfriend, he used a paper crane which was random because if you know him, such a macho guy, you wouldn’t expect him to be so soft and into something random like making paper cranes. But that’s the soft side I get to see :)

Anyway, without spoiling it too much, he brought that age old concept back with his proposal so for sure check it out <3 Now, almost four years later, here we are :) Him in the military and me in grad school pursuing the art teacher dreams and excited for what’s ahead together.

How He Asked

“God is SO faithful. For countless reasons already, this year was not what I had expected. But especially now- I never thought I would be engaged by September! So here’s my unashamed post giving a little summary of the most precious Saturday of my life because friends…he killed it. Blew me away, and I’m more appreciative and swept off my feet by my sweet guy then ever before- so I simply have to share.

Some background on the situations revolving around the season we were in prior to the big day:

Micah and I have been dating for close to 4 years now, and have known each other for 5 (little fro’shies!). It’s absolutely crazy how time flies! College is truly the time of your life. Over the summer, we had kept quiet that we had just barely started scratching the surface towards making plans for getting married. We aren’t the glamorous, all-eyes-on-us type of couple, and honestly- I wrestled with feeling okay to plan a wedding without being engaged. I felt a little overrated and a lot like I shouldn’t be taken seriously- but we kept it to our family and closest friends. Like I said- M and I are slow moving people.

We loved just getting to date each other, and my motto was that I loved just being his girlfriend- and I truly meant it! So needless to say- God had done a lot in my heart over the last year and really seemed to be making clear His perfect plan and timing for us as He changed and prepared our hearts. And He was. Just not how we expected. But isn’t that an all too familiar truth in life, am I right? Fast forward to about a month ago when I was setting up my cubicle a week before classes started here in Virginia. We had put a deposit down on September 15th, 2018, but only us and our families knew that.

And then the phone rang. And boy did our world’s shift. In a matter of moments, we went from being almost a year out from a wedding to Micah’s military training taking us well past the date we had low key set in stone. And it was painful. Devastating actually. My heart knew and desperately tried to remind myself that God was good, but it didn’t stop my stinging eyes from wondering in that moment. I thought to myself, “God, I was fine where I was. Fine if this was going to happen, but why did it have to go so far? We were promised his training would be a year. Why couldn’t you have let our hearts stay where they were?”

Moral of the story, later that week I made Micah promise that any plans for proposing that would have inevitably happened this year, needed to be taken off the priority list. We had a whole extra year now, and we should be wise and focus on what God was trying to do in us and through dating for us right now. He agreed and reassured me that He trusted the Lord, and that he would never do anything to “pity-propose” and cheapen that commitment just to use as a pick-me-up for us because we were in a tough place. Then he asked me to just trust him.

So we grieved our little loss together, prayed and moved forward. God’s peace, presence, and healing touch came quickly- but to my surprise, so did something else. Alright- so now that you have a little context for what surrounded the weeks before the proposal, hopefully it’ll give you a little more insight into my mind and why this day was literally immeasurably more in every sense of the phrase.

Originally Micah was supposed to be recruiting in D.C. that weekend for the Marines, and we had known this for weeks. Ironically, (which in reality was not ironic at all) two of my best friends were coming in from out of state to visit for the weekend. I was of course bummed that I wasn’t going to see Micah, but also stoked for my girls to come. It was going to be a hard weekend, what and all with it being September 15th and what would have been our 1 year countdown to the wedding, but we were getting through.

So Friday I was teaching (I am a Communications 101 course instructor at Libs), and my friend Dani, who was visiting for the weekend, was on campus getting lunch and waiting for me to get off of work. She texted me and my roommate a picture of a brochure for an interactive art gallery downtown for a local photographer I had been following for some time (shout-out to Mackenzie Leigh Photography). It was “forest-themed”, “black-tie affair”- and she asked if we all wanted to go. I barely glanced at my phone to look, but we all agreed it looked fun.

The next morning was even more routine- I showered, watched Friends (officially addicted) and baked cookies with the girls. We hung out together and I graded homework until it was time to get ready for the gallery. P.S. I even had this white dress that I had bought from UO over the summer that my sister talked me into getting. I always joked that it was so expensive, the only way to justify it would be if I got engaged in it- and don’t ask how, but those girls got me in that dress without me even thinking twice!

People- I mean this whole-heartedly when I say that the rapture was more on my radar that day then M proposing. Little did I know Micah was not in D.C., he was actually down the road since the night before. We drove to downtown Lynchburg where M and I used to walk on the trails during our very first date nights and anniversaries. The weirdest part was, as we were driving I swore I saw two of my other best friends from out of state, walking along the sidewalk with our Pastor and his wife. I flipped out and started telling Bek to pull over, but they convinced me that I hadn’t really seen them.

If you haven’t noticed by now friends- I am excruciatingly gullible. Oops. We made our way down the train tracks to the trails where Micah and I always used to walk. After a bit, Dani looked up from her phone and said, “It’s here! The pin my friend dropped me says we are here!” (Now I know it was actually a spot Micah and I found on accident years ago but it had been so long it was now overgrown and I didn’t recognize it!) We looked up and there it was. A cute little path lit with candles off the side of the trail leading into the woods.

A little creepy I thought- but hey. Whatever. We entered the trail and after a while of trekking through the dirt, I saw it. One of the first photos M and I ever took together there, hanging in the trees. I was besides myself freaked out. That was a personal phone photo! Why? What? How? What??

We kept walking and one by one I began to see more pictures of M and I, in chronological order, and I just lost it. I still didn’t know exactly what was going on, but man- something was weird. Were we going to get kidnapped?? Was he here to just surprise me because he knew we were having a crummy weekend with everything going on? Was he dead?? I know guys. I’m hopeless.

Folks, I promise this is real life. I was losinggg it.

Then, sure enough, I turned the corner and there was my guy, standing in a circle of string lights, in a little clearing in the woods, wearing a blazer and just beaming at me. Music started playing from heavens knows where, and the rest is all a radiant blur. He asked me if he could give me something, and proceeded to pull out a 4 year old paper crane from when he asked me to be his girlfriend years before. He had made a bunch of back-up cranes that day because he was so nervous of them blowing away (he sent me on a hunt to find it years ago on campus) LOL.

When I opened the fragile and worn little paper crane, inside was his writing from all those years ago saying, “Will you be my girlfriend?” except this time something new was there.
He had crossed out the word “girlfriend” and replaced it with “wife”. I looked up, and there was my sweet, handsome guy, eyes welling up and on one knee.

I know. I KNOW. My heart literally melted and I know I have never cried harder. Skip being pretty for this moment- but I couldn’t care less!

The photographer popped out from behind the bushes and informed me that we were not, in fact, at her photo gallery- but that this had all been organized by family, friends, and of course- Micah. After bombarding him with questions as to why now, how, and all the things- he simply said, “Sarah- I know things have been hard on us lately. But it doesn’t matter to me how long our engagement is. So what, we have a long engagement? I am committed to you at that level now. So just trust me- it’s time.”

Sobbing, laughing, shrieking and just all around flipping out, I fan-girled for a little while over Mackenzie and her work, and then asked where my family was if they had been such a part in this. Needless to say, M had organized a whole surprise party at our church where his family, my family, and almost 50 of our closest friends had traveled or come to celebrate with us. I know- dead.
Man I was a wreck. But mark my words, I was the most shocked, happiest, and luckiest wreck in the world that night.

Though we may not always understand it, God’s timing is indeed for us. You would think we would have learned this by now, but Christ is in a constant state of working out my faith in me- and after only a month of the engaged life, I can see so clearly how He is knitting mine and Micah’s stories together to create one that most glorifies and surrenders to Him.

So now here we are, just a couple of crazy kids walking through this exciting season together and taking our time all at the same time- and boy is it beautiful! Best of all, we are doing it as a team. Just like we always have and just like the one we will get to be for the rest of our lives.

Thank you Jesus for giving us the chance to glorify you through kingdom expansion and making us look more like you through marriage.

Special Thanks

Mackenzie Leigh Hopkins
Photographer