• Good things happen to those who wait…

    Date: 2013.11.18 | Category: Photos, Zachary | Tags:

    Zachary has been patiently waiting for the right girl for a few years now.  He has always had it in his mind that he would find a girl that shared his faith, who would be his best friend, care about his family (and not be afraid of his big family), and they would start a life together.   Zach moved to Florida to get his Masters degree.  He moved back to Iowa after interning at EA Sports because Gracie was sick and he wanted Maisey and Benjamin to know him.  (Little did he know then that there would be even more littles to join our family.)

    It’s hard when you are a 24 year old man who doesn’t drink, but you’d like to meet some people who share your interests.  Zach had been praying for that for a while.  He wanted to meet some friends, who liked video games like he did, who shared his same values, weren’t into partying or hanging out at bars, etc.  One day I was talking to a new 10 weeker that had joined our 7 a.m. class at Farrell’s.  He seemed like a nice guy.  We talked on and off about our faith and a little about our families.  One day I mentioned how hard it was for Zach to meet new people.  Our church was very small and most of Zach’s friends had moved away or he lost touch with them. Fritz invited Zach over for a game night with his group of friends.  They hit it off and a friendship was started.  I love the way God works.  How He places people in your life at just the right time.  After Fritz and Zach were hanging out for a while, Fritz told me that he knew lots of single girls in Zach’s age group from church and they (Fritz and his wife) said that they would figure out who would be the best match for him.  I laughed.  Blind dates don’t usually work, but they said they had had some luck in this match making area and would get back to us.  On New Years Eve they invited both Zach and this new girl over for their annual New Year’s Eve party.  Zach knew about the match making.  Stephanie did not.

    But to the joy of everyone involved, Zach and Stephanie hit it off.  They dated.  Zach commented over and over again how comfortable he felt with her.  He would say how easy it was to talk to her and how he just really liked her.  Time went by.  He brought her over to meet his siblings and she didn’t bolt out the door upon entering the chaos that can happen with 11 children in the house.  Even when he explained all that was going on with the littles, she was supportive.   The littles love her.  They run to the door, yelling “Stephameme!”.   They hug her and all ask to be held.  They all fight over her lap and she just goes with the flow.

    All of this leads to today.  It was a very big day. Zachary proposed and Stephanie said “Yes!”.

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    Now this is all very sweet but I really wanted to share the back story of how the proposal came to be.  Zachary really wanted this to be a sweet proposal.  He had considered some big flashmob idea, but Steph doesn’t like surprises all that well and he was worried he would embarrass her around people she didn’t know.  He decided to propose at Brenton Skating Plaza because that was where they had their first dates.  He had been talking with the staff there and found out they had a package you could buy to do just that.  He picked out his song, Philip Phillips “Home”.  They had it set for him to propose right before the zamboni polished the ice during intermission.  It was all set and he was so excited.  He had been counting down the hours on his phone until 2 p.m. today.

    He had worked it out so Stephanie’s parents, two of her sisters and her niece and brother-in-law could be there.  Dan and I and all our kids were set to be there along with grandma, Linda.  It is no small feat to get all of us somewhere.  We couldn’t say we were going skating because that wouldn’t be believable.  Ice skating with two children with thin blood would not be a good idea.  The littles, Jasmine, Dan, Mema and I were going to hide off in the distance in our “invisible” bus and watch from afar.  We were all set.

    On Friday afternoon the manager called and said the rink would not be open this weekend because it was too warm.  Too warm on November 17th in Iowa.  How is that even possible?  The manager asked if Zach could just do it next week.  Zach said he would love to, but he couldn’t.  His parents would be traveling to Boston for Ben’s open heart surgery and all sorts of finagling had to be done to get Steph’s sister off of work.  Zach was disappointed and tried to figure out a Plan B.

    Meanwhile, the rink manager called back and said he had a plan.  What if he could get Zach 30 minutes on the ice at Wells Fargo Arena?  Could he get Stephanie there?  Zach was thrilled, but how to get Stephanie there without her figuring it out.  It was no longer an outing to take Gracie and Steph’s niece to skate together.  Now it was private skating time.  Cassie came up with a great idea.  What if we told Steph that Zach had a special plan to celebrate Gracie being well now after being diagnosed with lupus two years ago?  It was right before Thanksgiving two years ago when she went in for her bone marrow biopsy because they thought she had leukemia.  Gracie is still taking her chemo drugs along with many others and will be for a while, but she had been doing so well.  What if that was the reason for the change?  What if Zach said that the people at Brenton were so touched by Gracie’s story that they allowed us to do this?  What if it was all about one last hurrah before Ben’s surgery?

    Well, the plan was in place.  We headed off in our bus to the skating plaza to get our skates.  Both families got on the bus and we headed to Wells Fargo.  We were taken in through the dock doors and the best news…..the littles, Codey and Jasmine didn’t have to watch from the bus.  They got to go in.  They got to be part of the whole thing.  And the people at Brenton went above and beyond, they even brought Tinkerbell to celebrate Gracie’s health.  Gracie and Jasmine were thrilled.  Ben loves Tinkerbell because of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Hope was even excited because we often call her “Tink”.

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    What a gloriously wonderful day!  Have I mentioned before how seriously blessed I am?  It’s not often that our whole family can be part of gatherings.  It’s complicated with Lainey and Codey and Jasmine being in the wheelchairs.  But today they opened the big doors to the ice arena, put up a ramp, and invited Codey and Jasmine to take their wheelchairs on the ice.  It’s hard when your children feel left out.  It’s hard when they are constantly on the sidelines watching others do the things they wished they could do, but not today.  Today they were part of the group.  Today they had fun!

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    Zach proposed.  The families celebrated.

    Even the littles had fun running up and down the aisles between the stadium seating.

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    I have to give a big shout out to Brenton Skating Plaza.  They went above and beyond with all their plans. They could have easily said, “Well, we are sorry.  Here is your money back.  Wish we could have helped.”  But instead they thought outside of the box.  They listened to Zach and worked hard to make things work.  They met us at Brenton.  They took us to Wells Fargo Arena.  They patiently stood by while we unloaded the bus and took forever to get our children into the arena.  They made the day not only for Zachary and Stephanie but for all my middles and littles.  All the way home Jasmine kept saying, “I had really, really, really, really, fun mama!  I want to go again. Can I go?”


    We were all feeling blessed to be a part of this wonderful day and can’t wait for Zachary and Stephanie to start their lives together.  Nobody is happier than Steph’s niece and Gracie though.  They have been planning from the very beginning to be cousins and now they have their wish.  It wasn’t too long into their dating that Gracie said “She’s the one, Zach” and Steph’s niece announced to Zach at one of their first family lunches that “Hey, if you marry Steph then you get to be my uncle.”  Zach had set up a lunch meeting with her dad to ask his permission for Steph’s hand in marriage.  Zach was nervous about what to say. He kept saying, “I know this is right.  I just want to say the right things so he knows my heart.”  Gracie said, “Just tell him that Stephanie is wonderful.  We all love her and we want her to be part of our family.”  Out of the mouths of babes.   God is good.   We are blessed!

    Congratulations Zachary and Stephanie!  May your life together be seriously blessed!