"NEW" It's a word I have written about before, here. And it has surfaced again. New can be a challenging word. A new job, a new relationship, a new city, a new baby. For me, all of those new things come with a mix of fear, trembling, eagerness and excitement. One thing I have learned about myself is that I really like safe and same, but I DREAM about new. The problem is, I only execute what I like, not what I dream. But things are a changin'.
Back in October, when our "Writing In Pencil" trio took to the skies and attended the Storyline conference, I had no idea how it would not only impact my desire to write, but it, also, impacted my entire way of thinking. If I had to write in 10 words a summary of what I walked away with, it was a quote by Neale Donald Walsh, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
With that quote, I challenged myself to start living the dreams of new life, new experiences, rather than living the life of safety and sameness. New doesn't mean easy and great. It could even invite a lot of hard, but hard invites God, and when God is in the mix, you win!
With this turn of perspective, my relationship with Tony started moving forward a little faster. I was willing to let go of safety and look for a bigger story. One that I wanted God to write, not my fears to write. In this case, looking toward the new, wasn't hard, it was peaceful and fun! Then New Year's Eve Day came, which you can read about here. I thought that could have been the end, but God did a wonder with that evening. It is amazing how much sharing every last piece of each other's thoughts have accelerated our love for each other. It was like the last giant hill on a roller coaster that we have been clicking up for so long, but after clearing it, it has been a fast and exhilarating ride!
THEN . . .
On Saturday, January 24th, 2015, Tony and I participated in a Young Life dry run of the Amazing Race, that was going to be put on for some donors. Our friends, Megan and Scott, told us and 4 other couples to meet downtown for the start of the race and that there would be a prize for first place and last place. Tony and I had our matching Amazing Race Outfits on and we were ready to roll! At the onset, we were told we were not going to be racing with our significant others, so I was a little bummed, but still ready to win!
We raced to Terra Verde to complete a challenge, to Costco to overcome a road block, to a bowling alley to try get a strike before leaving, to our friends' house to complete a foosball or lego challenge, to the zoo, and finally to the Broadmoor Hotel. My team was pretty strong, so we were battling it out for first place and pretty much thought we had it in the bag, but upon finding the final destination mat, I was a little shocked to find all the other teams had already arrived. I thought they had given up, or exceeded the time limit, so my team was still racing our heart out. When the prize envelopes were handed out, I was literally demanding for an appeal, because my team was handed the last place envelope and we were NOT last! WHAT? I was urging the winners to concede to the fact that they had skipped the last challenge. Then I realized that I didn't want to be a 40-year-old sore loser, so I let it go and opened up my loser's envelope.
The message was addressed to me, which I found to be quite confusing. I felt like I was reading the note, but it may as well been in Swahili, because I didn't comprehend one single word of it. By this time, I was starting to connect all the dots and to confirm my suspicions, Tony began to walk towards me and get down on one knee. He asked me if I would marry him, and I said, "Of course, I will," through tears and with an embarrassingly high pitched voice. The evening's celebration continued on from there. I was so 1000% surprised! I can not believe that Tony dreamed up and executed this entire elaborate proposal, (well actually I can). It was so perfect.
It is scary to think about being a step mom, about navigating the usual choppy waters of marriage again, about possibly leaving my irreplaceable neighbors, about how my kids will fair through more big change, BUT I'm beyond excited to start a NEW life with Tony!
Again . . . at the end of my comfort zone, I find a dependence on God, which is always a win. And in addition to that, I always find the most amazing love when my sweet "Sicilian, Latin Like Lover", Tony, is waiting for me.
I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!! SO MUCH NEW-NESS! SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR! I AM SO EXCITED THAT I CANNOT EVEN FIND MY "CAPS UNLOCK BUTTON"!!!! Holly Sue Bonnell Aldridge (soon-to-be-Walls), you are such a "catch." From day 1 of life without Dave, I knew (and so did COUNTLESS others) that another man smart and blessed enough to find you would come along. And come along he did! Tony was so clever the way he planned this Amazing Race, that even I (his partner in the race) had literally no clue what was going on. It all seems a little silly now but ya'll should have seen the athleticism with which I sprinted through parking lots, hurdled over other contestants, and blazed around town - and I certainly never picked up on the fact that Tony was about to propose! He is crafty and clever, to be sure. But Tony is also very kind, uniquely considerate and desires to be a loving and connected dad to Spencer, Leah and Macie. Having said all of that, this is the most important part in my heart about this joyful engagement: I think joy becomes exponential based on the level of pain that one must travel through. I pray that this season is full of joy-on-steroids...it is time for that and I could not be more thrilled!
I AM GOING TO JOIN IN THE ALL-CAPS CELEBRATION DANCE!! WOOT! WOOT! My favorite sentence in your blog is this, "New doesn't mean easy and great. It could even invite a lot of hard, but hard invites God, and when God is in the mix, you win!" That phrase alone encapsulates this great journey we are all on. And, I truly believe that God is, indeed, in this mix! When Tony plopped himself in our kitchen and asked us to help him execute Operation-Propose-to-Holly, we were all in! I thought you all would sniff out the ruse in no time flat, but as time went by, everyone seemed to buy it hook-line-and-sinker. It was so fun! (I'm just proud I kept my BIG mouth shut!) What exhilaration this gave us! Not to mention, when you were approaching the finish line for the grand proposal and the groom-to-be was nowhere in sight because the ring box was trapped in the dashboard of his car! I chuckle remembering how he and the valet had to take a crow bar and destroy the dashboard to retrieve the ring. Your face was precious when you realized he was proposing. The sheer joy of that moment solidified that this pairing is indeed the redemptive work of a loving God! (And, it turns out, I must be a prophet!! Holly IS going to "get lucky" in 2015!) HA!! Love you, friend. Many, much blessings to the NEW Aldridge-Walls family. :)