After a long and intense week Heather and I (Mark) were able to work through things. It had been hard to just wait and pray but Heather again felt that we were supposed to be together. I was happy - and relieved. With the pressure and intensity of that time behind us we simply spent time together enjoying each other. While I was convinced that she was the one I kind of felt like a large bridge that had been shaken but undamaged during an earthquake.
After a few weeks we both felt like it was time to get engaged again. I knew that Philly was the place. I asked Heather where we were going when I picked her up and she said, "Philadelphia keeps coming to mind." We got engaged a stones throw from the Liberty Bell and celebrated that night with my brother and his wife. This was going to happen!
The next few months were full. Heather graduated from college and we continued to minister together. We traveled a lot that summer preaching and teaching at various camps and churches. In July we traveled to New York City to be part of a large gathering of young people known as the call. We worked closely with a two teams that week to prepare for the event. As we went through the week I kept battling control issues. As someone who hated what I perceived to be controlling leaders this was somewhat humbling:) None the less these issues continued to arise. Near the end of the week I asked the team for help. I wanted to get to the bottom of whatever it was that God was after. As we prayed one of the girls on our team started asking questions about our first engagement. "Did you get down on one knee when you proposed?" she asked. No was the answer. Heather and I had been worshipping together and I simply slipped the ring on her finger. As we continued to pray and talk it seemed like God was making plain what he was after. There was something about our engagement that needed to be made right. So, there in the middle of Flushing Meadow Park in Queens in front of our friends I pulled out my journal and read to Heather what God had spoken to me in January. This time I got down on one knee and I proposed to her. She said yes as the camera's clicked and I put the ring back on her finger. We were now engaged for a fourth and final time.
It was an intense week in New York but good. The Event was a success and we met up with friends of ours who were working in Queens that summer to debrief before we headed back to Lancaster. We gathered around the table at International House of Pancakes and talked as we ate breakfast. One of our friends asked about our week. I told them about some of it and then shared how we had gotten engaged for a fourth time. It suddenly got quiet and her jaw dropped. "Do you remember my dream?" she asked.
This friend frequently had dreams so I wasn't sure which one she was talking about. "Remember, I told you about this dream before you and Heather got together. There was a large event going on like the Super Bowl and this famous pastor was there. (the event that we were at that week was very similar to what she described - thousands and thousands of people and the same pastor had been there) There was this big event going on and there was a horse there. The horse was going out to get engaged. It had to go out a fourth time because the first 3 times it had trouble bending it's knee!"
I sat there stunned. I felt like God was saying loud and clear: Don't doubt for a second that I planned all of this - not just the parts that felt good. I may not have chosen to include 4 engagements in my version of a perfect love story, but, God had. This remains one of my favorite parts of our story.
As we packed up and headed from New York back to Lancaster I was again overwhelmed by God's love for us and his commitment to tell a good story.