I write romance. There, I said it. It's not your momma's romance. No heaving bosoms, although Carly does wheeze a time or two. (She has asthma.)
I have always contended, though, that God has created the ultimate love story - His love for us, that He sent His only begotten Son, to die for our sins that we might be saved.
He's also the creator of the love stories you read about in the newspaper - far better than any love story I or any other author could hope to create.
Having recently celebrated thirteen years of marriage, I've reflected a time or two on my relationship with my husband, and where it all began. We met in the movie theater at the tender young age of sixteen. He was with the guy that was dating my sister, and I was with a couple of friends. We fell in love as soon as we even began our relationship, dating for four and a half years before I jumped the gun and said, "I'm tired of being your girlfriend." (To clarify, I meant I wanted a new title - fiancee.)
We looked at rings "just for ideas," and went about life in college. One day, I wasn't feeling like class, and he was done for the day. He decided to take me for pizza, and drove what I sleepily advised him was "the wrong way." But it wasn't. It was the right way for his plans, and God's direction for our life.
This was the day he proposed. And oh, boy, did he make a splash!
We drove down one of the main roads in town, and he turned into a diner parking lot. Pulling around back (behind the dumpsters, a fact which I will never let him live down!), he got out and knelt down. As we'd pulled in, I saw the question posed on the billboard:
Becki, Will You Marry Me?
So it was no surprise to see him kneeling before me. YES! Absolutely, a hundred times over, YES!
Well, the newspaper got ahold of the story. After all, it's not every day you see such a declaration of love for all the world (or town, at least) to see.
Robert Redding, Jr. of the local paper titled the article "A Sign of His Love."
The accompanying photo was of two lovebirds (that'd be us) kissing in front of the billboard. Thankfully, after a call the night before to the diner, my now-husband was able to ascertain that it wasn't placed next to an ad for divorce. Instead, I think it was a sign hocking pancakes.
Eighteen months after the proposal and first article, a second was written by famed local author Ed Grisamore.
"They met at the movies on May 2, 1997. They were introduced in the lobby at Regal Cinema. Jason saved his ticket stub from the night that changed his life. Their engagement sounds like something out of the movies, too."
He continued in his tale of our love, which has always felt a little like a movie, better than any Ryan Spalding of the Sparks of Hope series could hope to gain as a part.
Wedding bells will be ringing for the "Billboard Bride.''
And they did. On October 19, 2002, I married the man of my dreams.
Just when I thought our billboard fame had ended, I ran into the photographer of our photo all those years ago. He said the AP picked up the story, and they had requests from as far away as Great Britain to run a story on the "Billboard Bride." I never knew! I decided to Google it, hoping maybe some archives would be searchable after all these years. Instead, I found a new article.
Minister Keith Wishum of Americus, Georgia pulled from the ashes our story, using it to prove his point in his September 27, 2015 article "Getting Your Attention" in the Americus Times-Recorder.
"Do you ever have difficulty getting someone to pay attention to you? If you have children, I’m sure you can relate. People are busy. There are so many distractions. It can be hard to get someone to really listen to you."
He goes on to tell the story of the billboard proposal, capping his editorial on our proposal story with:
"God has also gone to great lengths to get our attention. No, he didn’t use billboards. Instead, he sent his son to get our attention."
To know that my love story, one written by God in our hearts and our lives, has been used to show the world that God is trying to get our attention, well...as a Christian author who weaves love stories of her own, I am honored.
Mr. Wishum concludes his article by saying:
"The Creator of the universe wants to help us succeed in life. He wants to make us happy and fulfilled. He longs to wrap us in love and give us life that lasts forever.
All of that comes from paying attention to his son."
Thank you, to Mr. Redding, Mr. Grisamore, and Mr. Wishum for bringing our love story, a tale woven by God Himself, to the world.