How I Proposed And Made April My Bride

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In November of 2016 April and I started discussing a future together which at that time was full of plans for Denver Comic Con and all the movies we had to watch together.  Marriage was on the table, but I had convinced her that we needed to go camping first before we seriously considered combining our forces for good.

But after spending Christmas together, I knew that even if she hated camping, I didn’t want to spend my life without her.  I kept talking about camping and as April still hasn’t spent the night under God’s amazing stars, I kept telling her we needed to camp so that we could see if we were really meant to be together.  Fortunately for me and probably for her too, this was just a lie to keep her on her toes.  Like I was going to ghost on her, (a term here meaning vanish for no good reason) after our first failed camping experience.

Instead I was planning a proposal.

First, I had to convince her to go to the Wonderful World of Disney and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with me for my birthday. That didn’t take much convincing because she too loves theme parks.

Next, I had to ask for her father’s blessing and make sure she didn’t have a clue I was meeting with her dad.  Luck was on my side when one night she left her phone at my house and  I was able to snag her dad’s number.  I texted him right away.  We met for breakfast and with my broken Spanish I asked for his blessing.  He said yes.

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Later the same day I met my parents at the ring store and picked out the diamond. For the next two weeks I finally came to understand what it feels like to hold a secret and have it burn a hole in my pocket.

Finally, I was able to convince a friend of mine to join me at Harry Potter World to take pictures of the proposal. The only day he could do it was February 17th, my birthday and the day I had planned on proposing.  Now, all I had to do was show up at the park on February 17th.

But when good things are happening there is resistance. We had set backs along the way, mostly with getting to California and the Harry Potter World.  Travelocity messed up our tickets and my boss didn’t want to approve my time off.  After five hours on the phone with Travelocity in which both our tickets were nearly canceled due to the stupidity of our agent, I felt like giving up.

Maybe God didn’t want me to go to California.  What if this was a sign from him that my trip wasn’t a good idea, and then I was told by my boss I had to be at a meeting for work on my birthday.

God gave me the word of joy at the start of the year and I have felt him tell me that I would need to fight for it.  So I fought through these challenges, and requested time off from my boss for my birthday.  I was able secure the time off so April could take me to California over President’s Day Weekend.

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As easy as it would have been to give up on a grand proposal and believe that it was not meant to be due to all of the resistance, I chose to fight for joy anyway.  I did not give up when the travel agent messed up our tickets, nor when I got in an accident on my way home from work on the night of our flight.  It was a fight getting to the airport and once we were in the terminal the fight didn’t stop.  The flight was over booked and offering 500 dollars to wait until the next day.  That money would have been amazing, especially with my smashed up car I had just left behind at my house.  I could tell April wanted to wait, but I felt God give me the strength to say no and to trust him, his plan for me was to fly off to California and like Van Gogh said, start a good thing.  I had to say no to the money and we flew off to California.

Once we arrived in California, tropical storm Lucifer did all it could to steal our joy.

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Later that night my phone would die due to the amount of rain from the storm

 

Trusting God, I chose to find joy anyway, which meant no matter how long April took on the homework she decided to do right before leaving for the park (She had no idea I was proposing, so her procrastination on her homework is slightly excusable, even though it was my birthday and she could have skipped it as it was a ten point assignment or how hard it was raining once we reached Universal Studios). I was going to have fun because I knew God was for me, he wanted me to propose.

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I was a nervous wreck. I had written my proposal the night before and as we drove to the park, I kept reading over what I was going to say. At lunch in “The Three Broomsticks” I prayed the rain would stop. It didn’t.

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As we finished our food, I gave a lame excuse about needing to run off to the restroom. I dashed outside and basically swam to a prearranged location (Moaning Myrtle’s Restroom in Hogsmeade) to meet my friend who was already there to take pictures. We ran through the plan and he showed me the best location for pictures; right outside in the rain.

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After having him repeat where he wanted us, I waded my way back inside and convinced April that I needed to show her the best view of the Hogwarts castle. It was a miracle she followed me into the rain.

I took off her hood to her rain coat and proposed! We were too love-struck to feel the rain anymore.

Okay, that is not true. It was raining so hard that my handwritten proposal was hard to hold onto. But April waited patiently as I drew out a wand.

Next, April freaked out when I pulled a copy of Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince from my back pack.

“It will get wet!” she said.

To focused to care, I opened the book and dropped to one knee.

“Will you make an unbreakable vow with me?” I asked. Before she could respond I looked down at the opened book where the ring was hanging on a ribbon. However, it was raining so hard that the ring was blown off the page, out of sight. I scrambled to move it back and I said, “April Inez Hernandez, I love you. Will you marry me?”

She did not ghost me. She did not bench me. She did not bread crumb me, but she said without any hesitancy, “Yes I will!”

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Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny: How I Chose To Love My Bride

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Our first date didn’t end with the kiss. It ended with April rescuing me!  After saying goodbye I jumped into my car and started to drive off only to have my gas run out two feet outside my parking spot.  It was past 10 pm and all the gas stations near the theater were closed.  My cell phone had only five percent of its battery left so April picking up on the first call was a miracle.  Without a moment of hesitation she turned around, picked me up, and drove me home so I could grab up a gas can.  Patiently she took me back to my car, helped make sure it would start, and finally followed me home, making sure I was safe.

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Looking back I am shocked it took my heart so long to open up. But, can you blame me, I had been show-goggled (a term here meaning the attraction lessens or increases based on the types of tv shows you watch like when a girl broke up with me because I didn’t like the show Friends), so I was being extra cautious. But April is kind and gracious and is definitely not petty.  Never has she held it against me that I ran my car out of gas on our first day nor that I have different opines on television or that I know that Harry Potter does not belong with Ron’s main squeeze Hermione Granger.

If you haven’t read any Harry Potter, all you need to know is that JK Rowling was able to create a world with super lovable and relatable characters.

As long as I can remember, I have always connected with the side kicks or the best friends in stories and TV shows; even though I would rather be the hero. I see parts of Harry Potter in myself, but when forced to choose a character I completely relate with, it would have to be the best friend, Ron.

Ron Weasley holds a special place in my heart because he too is the sidekick and is constantly given the hand-me-downs.

Maybe that is why my first major fight with April was over fictional charactersI was so adamant that Ron land Hermione as she is no hand-me-down.

I am firmly on team Harry and Ginny as well as team Ron and Hermione. April wants Harry Potter and Hermione Granger to end up together because she sees them as the two leads and thus believes they are destined to be together.

She told me that she thought Ron and Hermione argued to much and that if Hermione wasn’t to be with Harry she should at least be with Malfoy, a horrible bully. At hearing this, I was furious.

We are still arguing over this, but along the way, I realized, much like Ron does in the sixth and seventh books, that it is not important to always be right, but it is better to love and be loved. And my love is best when it is given away freely in sacrifice of my own pride.

This argument over the love lives of two fiction characters will not end us.

April was patient and courageous in her own way. She read all of my favorite books and even went hiking with me! She didn’t even run in fear when we heard a mountain lion as we hiked through the Colorado Hogback. Yet her real act of courage came in July after months of dating when she said, “I love you!”

I freaked out. I was convinced that I didn’t deserve something so wonderful, yet I couldn’t bench her (a term that means place the person you are dating to the side so you can check out other options), neither could I friend-zone her.

God kept telling me to be patient but something wasn’t right. I wasn’t being the leader I God had called me to be, nor was I communicating my feelings. Our relationship was more like Ron and Hermione’s than Harry and Ginny’s, meaning it was full of tension. I broke up with her believing tension meant I should move on, but that if she truly was Hermione and I was Ron, then our friendship would last, but it would be nothing more.

I broke up with her after a night out at the movies and through our breakup I learned that I loved April not because she was the same as me, but because she stood up for herself and was confident in her own beautiful unique self.

The night of our break up, as soon as I started communicating my feelings April listened and communicated her own desires. She told me that she did not want to only be my friend and reaffirmed that she loved me. When she told me this, I realized that she was my best friend and that I wanted to work through the rough patches with her.

I realized that when you really love someone, you work through the tension. After four days of crying, I asked her to meet me for coffee and said, “You’re my best friend and I love you.”

April is a die hard Harry Potter fan, but not like I am. She has her own opinions and that is what makes her so lovable. I am learning to love someone who is unlike me. April is not someone I am just with because she is like me and makes me feel better about myself, but she has become the someone I am with because she makes me a better person. She does this because she teaches me to love someone other than myself and unlike me.

In that moment when I told April I loved her too, April showed me true grace.

We’ve been at each others’ sides ever since! But this time with a purpose. Marriage!

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March Madness

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Have you filled out your bracket?

Yep, I’m talking about the NCAA’s baby!  This year I’ve got my team going all the way.  Yep, I’ve picked the University of Colorado to make it to the NCAA championship game.  I always pick my school to win it, which hasn’t been possible due to the fact CU hasn’t been in the NCAA tournament in nearly 10 years.  This doesn’t mean deep down I expect them to win, I just hold out hope.

I am extremely excited about my team, but to be honest I haven’t been able to pay much attention this year.  I always hope for CU to do well, but this year they have blown past my expectations.  I figured they would win a game or two in the Pac12 tournament, but not much more.  So I was floored yesterday when I saw that they’d won the tournament and were lacing up their dancing shoes for the big dance.

As excited as I am about all this, something much greater has been going on this last week.

I’ve been out of the country.

Over the last week I have been serving on a short term mission trip in Guatemala.  After almost 9 months away from Guatemala I made it back for the Inter-American School’s Spiritual Emphasis retreat.

Last week was amazing and I am not quite ready to fly back to the states.  But what I am ready to do is share about all the crazy things God did in our lives.  He not only worked in our lives, but he used my dad, Mike and Stacey Davis, and Me.

Two students in high school made statements of faith and 30 in elementary asked to know Christ.

Let that sink in.  That is so much bigger than CU making it to the NCAA’s.  Kids lives were changed and God let me be part of it!

This is the real madness.  Over the last couple of months I’ve been preparing for this week.  I wanted it to be perfect.  Almost every night I’ve had a dream about Guatemala, most of the time my students are like characters out of Harry Potter, but they’re my students just the same.  And so as I dreamed of my return, I also made sure I did my best to include God in on my plans.  I didn’t want to come back to IAS just to see all my friends I missed, but to challenge my students to grow in Christ.  But just like I hoped CU would make the NCAA tournament, never really expecting them to win the Pac12 Championship to make it in to the big dance, I never expected God to do so much during my time leading the retreat.

It’s amazing how, when we have an open heart to all he is doing, he blows past our expectations.  He truly is greater than we give him credit for.  But I guess that’s what life is like when we live spiritually.

I believe that God did so much this week because my team and I came down to Guatemala with open hearts to all he had for us.  It is only when we are open to him that he uses us.  Before the week began we each prayed that we would be open to all God had for us this week and man, he had an extravagant amount for us.  I have so many stories of how he moved and am very excited to share them all once I have time to write them down.  Just be prepared to be changed, because when you read them, if you read them with an open heart toward God, you wont be the same.

As we fly home my prayer is that the students who felt Christ move in their lives will be able to find someone who will be able to help them grow in their faith.

I promise I will write more about the trip to Guatemala.  God showed up on my adventure this week and I am very excited to share it all with you, but right now I need to get to bed.

Please pray for a safe flight.

10 Things I Will Not Do In 2012

1. I will not leave major life situations up to chance.  Playing the dice game on my phone to decide if I am going to have a second burger is fine, but not acceptable for major life changing situations.  No, I did not use my phone to help me make my decision to move back to Colorado after living in Guatemala.  That would have been stupid, plus I made that decision in 2010.

2. I will not spend half the year without a job.  2011 was a rough year for work.  I spent half the year teaching and the other half babysitting  Way to put my college degree to work. Eff em up, Eff em up GO CU!!

3. I will not read the rest of the Millennium Series.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a true bore fest.  I know Stieg Larsson was trying to create a tense mystery, but he failed to make me care about any of the characters.  And if I don’t care about the characters I don’t care about the story, he also never really put any of them in real danger (at least in the first book and at least for the first 300 pages, which is too long for me).  I guess a better way to put it, I am not going to waste my time on poorly written books.

4. I am not going to fly American Airlines.  I was surprised when in late 2011 they filed for chapter 11 Bankruptcy, because they had over charged me for several of their mistakes.  With all of the extra money I gave them I would think they would be financially sound.  Since when is it my fault that they canceled a ticket I purchased and notified me by sending me an email in, wait for it,  . . . Spanish.  A language I am not completely fluent in.  This miscommunication cost me over 200 dollars when I had to re-buy my ticket.  They also conveniently lost the recording of a phone conversation I had with one of their representatives, which would have proved the error was theirs and saved me money.  I will eventually write a blog about how much I hate American Airlines, but for now I am still too mad.

5. I am not going to be a host for a party of amoebas.  If you have traveled outside of the U.S. you understand the temptation to taste the rich local food.  It can be so colorful and exotic, but more often than not, it is also very dangerous.  So, no street food for me.  I am saying no to hotdogs for under a dollar, which is a shame because gringas, garnachas, cheveres, and tacos are great.  Living in Colorado has been a bit safer for my bowels as I have yet to walk past any of my favorite street vendors, but after Thanksgiving 2011 I wasn’t sure some of my old uninvited friends (amoebas) weren’t throwing a party in my stomach.  I am not going to host that party in 2012.

6. I am not going give up on my dream of dating Jessica Scheel (Miss Guatemala 2010).  Because if I am afraid to dream grand dreams, then I will live an empty life.  There is only one snag in this whole thing, I am just a normal guy living in the states and she is super famous (or kind of famous).  Maybe it would be better to say, I am not going to give up on my love life even though it’s seemed more like an impossible dream at times.

7. I am not going to succumb to a Zombie attack.  As many people believe that 2012 is the final year on earth and a Zombie Apocalypse is bound to happen, I vow to be prepared.  Those brain suckers will not feast on my brain.  More realistically I will not spend all of my time sitting in front of the TV.  2012 will be a year for doing and living.  It will not be a year for the undead.

8. I will not stop dreaming about Guatemala.  I am not completely sure if I am in control of this one, but I have had dreams about Guatemala, my friends and my students, almost every night for the last six months.  Typically in the dreams I am teaching at Hogwarts, but the school for wizards and witches is always located in Guatemala and the student body is not British, but Guatemalan; more specifically all of my old students.  I am not sure what these dreams mean, but I am pretty sure they will continue well in to 2012.

9. I am not going to give up on my dream of becoming a writer.  My current plan is to go back to school for my masters in  teaching, but my end goal is to be published.  I love writing and I want to be able to share my ideas with the world.  I am not going to stop dreaming this dream.

10. I am not going to live timidly, except for when it comes to street food.  The Mayan calendar ends on December 21st.  Some people think this means the end of the world, but in reality we never know how much longer we have to live.  Life is precious, so don’t hold back.  For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2nd Timothy 1:7)

What are you not going to do in 2012?  I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

Harry Potter and Tebowing at the Climax

I love going to the movies.  I was that kid who stood in line to see all of the “Star Wars” movies when they were re-released back in the 90’s and when “The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring” came out ten years ago, I was the first person in line, not just for tickets, but to enter the theater.  And when theaters started releasing movies at midnight, I’m there at 10 pm.  Don’t even get me started on how early I had to get to the theater for “The Return of The King;” it was crazy.

I think the reason I love going to the movies is because I love good stories.  The atmosphere in a crowded theater on opening night is exhilarating.  When “The Sixth Sense” came the theater was packed.  With every twist and turn each of my friends began tucked their legs up on their seats.  We shared in the fear.  We pulled for Bruce Willis’s character to reconnect with his wife and for Haley Joel Osment’s character to receive the help he needed.  As the movie built toward its climax the hairs on my legs stood up and all I wanted to do was hug my knees like everyone else, but fear froze me.  The crowd made the climax of the movie completely captivating, but the well told story made the change the characters experienced even more meaningful and worth the level of fear I had to experience.

Good stories are filled with meaning.  Movie writer and teacher Robert McKee says, “If I could send a telegram to the film producers of the world, it would be these three words: ‘Meaning Produces Emotion’ Not money; not sex; not special effects; not movie stars; not lush photography.”  Meaning is what a good story is all about and the climax of a good movie will be filled with meaning.  McKee states that “The Climax of the last act is your great imaginative leap.  Without it, you have no story.  Until you have it, your characters wait like suffering patients praying for a cure.”

When I’m in a packed theater, I’m suffering along with the main character for that positive or negative turn to occur in the movie.  I want Frodo to make it to Mount Doom and drop the ring into the fires of Mordor.  I want Harry Potter to live or die, maybe both, and so I wait for that turning moment, that meaningful climax.  As an audience, we share the ups and downs of the characters story.  Without the ups and downs that lead to the climax, the climax would be meaningless.

There are people out there that flip to the end of a book before they start just so they can see if it is a good ending or not.  They pick up “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” and flip to Harry’s battle with Voldamort.  They want to get the stories payoff without reading the entire book or, even worse, the other six books in the series.  By skipping to the end of the book they miss the reason why Harry had to do what he does.   But just like sharing a story with someone adds to the story’s meaning, the work it takes for character, as well as the reader, to make it to the climax is what makes it meaningful.

The people who want to skip to the climax of a book are the same people who sat down and watched the last episode of Lost with out watching the previous five seasons.  They didn’t want to see the story develop, to see the characters grow and change.  They wanted all of the payoff without watching for six seasons.  These are the same people who on December 5th want to fast forward to Christmas Day.  They want the meaning without any of the work.

More on Christmas in a moment.  Let’s not rush to the climax because right now we’re at the rising action of our story.  Sunday December 4th The Neighborhood Church celebrated the second Sunday of the Advent season by sharing a sit down meal during the worship service.  People met together, ate, and shared stories about Christmas’ past.  It was very meaningful.  The only problem was the service didn’t finish until 12 pm.  An hour into the Denver Broncos game against the Vikings.  Co-blogger and Co-pastor of the Neighborhood Church, Mike Klassen comforted the congregation by reminding us all that “Tebow Time” (A term here meaning going beast mode and winning against all odds) isn’t until the fourth quarter anyway.  So if we missed the first half it would be just fine.

I tevoed Tebow anyway.  As I pressed play on the DVR, I knew I wanted to share a meaningful story with my fellow Bronco fans who’d gathered around the TV with me.  We knew we could just fast forward to the end.  But we wanted to experience the entire story.  If we had just skipped to the end, the win wouldn’t have been as meaningful.  The time we shared together watching the Broncos game was splattered with theological discussions.  Why is Tebow so loud about his faith?  Incomplete pass!  What if Tebow messes up (On the field and in his faith)?  Fumble, no way the ground can’t cause a fumble! What is perseverance of the Saints (No, I’m not talking about football here)? I can’t believe it, the Broncos Win!

And as Tebow rallied the Broncos from an 8 point deficit late in the fourth quarter we were discussing how God’s Grace works in our lives.  Life is like a good movie with many turns.  In “The Return of the King,” Frodo loses hope.  He turns away from his mission and decides he will keep the ring, but Grace steps in (In the form of Sam) and saves him.  Grace does what Frodo cannot do, destroy the ring and bring him back to the Shire.  Grace creates the meaningful change in Frodo’s life.  If Tebow fails on the field or in life, Grace will be there for him too.  Grace is there for all of us, offering a chance to make a meaningful change in our lives.  A chance to Tebow (Go beast mode/let God takeover), which brings us back to Christmas.

Christmas is not about what you get or even about what you give.  It is about experiencing the season with the people you love.  It is about sharing special moments with those around you.  Most of all it’s about God sending the Incarnation of Grace down to the world as the baby Christ.  If we fast forwarded to Christmas Day it would be like reading the last page of a book, only watching the Broncos during the fourth quarter, and fast forwarding all our favorite movies to the climax: empty and meaningless.  So slow down and know that no matter how long it seems until Christmas, that God is working in your life.  Christmas is more than just the climax of Christmas day.  It is about the Grace we have been given and the work it does in our life.  Let Grace make a meaningful change in your life this season.

I am an avid Bronco fan and movie enthusiast who believes in Tebowing every night because the best way to live a meaningful story is to stay connected to the author.