Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Carl Lopez, the Love of my Life!

Tomorrow is our 15 year anniversary! I can not believe that I have been married to Carl for 15 years.

I thought I would briefly hmm hmm tell you all our story for those of you who do not know how we met and then married.

I transferred to Southwest Baptist University in the fall of 86, yes I did mean 1986! I had spent two years at a State University, in a sorority (please...) pursuing a major only to be told I had a lisp (by a high school student and I didn't even know I had one!) and who would hire me to be a news reporter/anchor with a lisp, and was thinking surely there is more to life than this. I sat out of school for a year and became the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School teacher at my home church--fell in love with ministry and doing what God had made me to do!

I am standing in line at SBU to get my schedule and in front of me is a really tall dark haired good looking guy--David Starnes. You all thought I was going to say Carl didn't you! My maiden name was Stenner so I found myself in line quite often with Dave.

About 3 days later he shows up at my door, looking for my room mate. They were both MK's (missionary kids) from Korea and had grown up together. So Dave and I became good friends. At some point Dave had met this really cool, really smart, really great guy named Carl Lopez. One day I was at Dave's apartment and Carl came over on his bike wearing a burgundy pullover hoodie (Edmond graduate) and I thought what a sweet guy--he is really cute too! So I fixed him up with my roommate (not the MK from Korea!)

Carl and I became great friends over the course of his freshman year and my junior year...(yes I am older) and then he transferred to OBU (Oklahoma Baptist University) shame on him!

LONG story and I mean 7 years long. Carl and I remained great friends, the best of friends really and kept in touch. Somewhere along the line I knew he was the one--by somewhere I mean about 2 months after I fixed him up with my room mate. I then waited through at least 2 other girlfriends (that I know about!).

I graduated from SBU and went to Arizona as a US-2 missionary through the then Home Mission Board. We of course wrote letters (how retro) and kept in touch. It really helped that my parents had a lakehouse at Beaver Lake in Arkansas which was 25 minutes from Carl's parent's house in Rogers. Carl's parents moved to Arkansas from Oklahoma after he graduated from high school.

Carl had two more years at OBU and then went to graduate school--in Physics (is Carl weird or what?--I mean smart or what). I finished my two years in Arizona and then went to Jackson Tennessee to serve at the incredible Englewood Baptist Church as youth and college minister--oh excuse me, my title was Director of Youth and College Ministries--it was 1990.

So, needless to say I did not date...when I say didn't date I mean didn't date ANYONE for 5 years, despite my teenagers wanting to fix me up with people like Micheal W. Smith and Carmen--true. I told them I didn't think either where good ideas because Micheal was already married with 4 kids at the time and well Carmen...not so much. Literally every conference, camp etc that I took my youth group to, my kids were always trying to find a single youth minister or youth worker to introduce me to. Let's focus on JESUS kids not Denise's date life!

Again, Carl and I remained best friends. I knew he was the one--didn't know when he would be the one but that he was. In the back of my mind, which crept to the front of my single mind quite often, I would think, what if he calls one day and asks me to be the best man (I mean woman) at his wedding..and this was before My Best Friend's Wedding (I was so ahead of my time!) And then I would end up in Africa as a missionary with my hair in a bun wearing ugly skirts--it was the 90's.

There were plenty of times that I wanted to say, "Hey what is the deal with us." But the Lord would not allow me to and had given me a verse in Song of Solomon (easy there trigger!) "Do not stir up love until it is ready." Actually it is in there twice in 2:7 and again in 3:5. The Lord knew I needed to see it more than once, you know to be for sure and all! In the Message that verse is paraphrased, "Don't excite love, don't stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you're ready." I feel extremely blessed and thankful for what ever holy restraint that it took for me NOT to take the initiative to ask Carl but waited and waited and waited...(hee hee) for Carl to pursue me (finally) rather than me pursue him. And until the time was ripe and I was ready!

Well LONG story even longer! Carl and I were very involved in working youth camps, Super Summer etc and were given opportunities to see each other.

Around April, 1992 I went to a Conference at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary with my friends Jeff and Malea who were students there at the time. Carl came down from OSU (he is now in graduate school in Electrical Engineering--is he ever going to get out of school?) I could tell that he was acting a little different than our normal friendship. We went to church to hear our friend Randy Miller preach at this little store front church--we were going through the drive through at Grandy's and "I Will Be Here" by Stephen Curtis Chapman came on and there was a silence in our car (except for the song...come on follow me here) and I knew (okay I thought really really strongly) that we would be WE for the rest of our lives. So if we have a song I guess that would be it...or All For Love by Color Me Bad--not sure which.

ANYWAY, Carl and I went with Englewood to Brazil to build a church in May. On the plane ride home we had THE talk--yes Carl brought it up not me. Our first kiss was on an airplane 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over the Atlantic ocean. So basically we decided to get married before we ever had our first date. Our first date was at the Spaghetti Factory in BrickTown in OKC.

So there you have it folks. Oh yea the proposal...well LONG story short. Sometime around October Carl and I drove up to Pigeon Forge and back to Jackson in one day! It was sometime after we had bungee jumped! I said, "When are we going to set a date? I feel like I need to let Dr. Jett (my pastor) know when I am leaving so that the church can make plans to find a replacement for me). Taking into account that most churches get a two week notice before most youth ministers...I mean Director of Youth Ministries leave. But it sure sounded like a good way to get Carl to nail down a date. Carl said, "I don't want to set a date until we are engaged." SO I said, "Well when are we going to get engaged." He said, "When I can afford to buy you a ring." So I vowed to myself to never bring up the subject again!

Over Christmas break Carl went with me to take my youth group skiing in Boone, North Carolina (yes there are mountains er a mountain there). We had to come home a day early because it was unusually warm and the snow was melted. We came home on New Year's Day. Unbeknown st to me, it was Carl's plan to propose on January 1st, you know start the year off right and all. So we got back to church and like any good youth I mean Director get it...I waited for all the parents to show up. My Carl went to take our friend Karl to get a car off their lot--Golden Circle Ford. My Carl went on to Kroger's to put his plan into place. He went to purchase flowers and a plastic thingy out of a candy machine that you put a toy ring in. His plan WAS to give me the "toy ring" say, I don't have the money to purchase the ring I want yet but I know you want to set a date so here...until I can. And then wala it would be my ring.

Blame it on nerves, but Carl locked the keys in the car with the ring in his bag. Uh-oh. Back at Englewood, all the parents are gone and now Karl, Denise, (yes that is her name) and I are waiting for Carl. No Carl...a red sporty car comes pulling up with a lady in it and Carl in the passenger seat...what!

LONG story...after attempting to get a key, Carl's bronco not starting because although there is no snow in North Carolina, it is a cold spell in Jackson and it is like 2 below out, and Carl's bronco got left in neutral (call it nerves I don't know) while he was trying to start it and it rolled into the middle of the parking lot in my apartment complex, and attempting to use the jimmy kit from Golden Circle Ford and breaking my driver side door, we finally called Al's Big Tow--that is what it was called--hilarious!

Anyway, on January 2nd at about 1 am Carl Lopez asked me to marry him and guess what...I said YES! There you have it!


twingirlsmom said... THAT'S who Carl reminds me of! All Carl needs to complete the look is a turned up color and a gold necklace. :)

Great story! Happy Anniversary!

denise lopez said...

There is a comedian underneath that quiet little sweet smile of yours! You are sweet and you are funny!

Beam Family said...

You are so funny...sometimes when I read your blog I can actually hear you talking!!

Jamie said...

"All 4 Love" by Color Me Badd?!? I totally forgot about that song! If I ever hear it again, I'm going to think of you and Carl. LOL

What a fun story :)

Jennifer said...

Happy 15th Anniversary!!! We miss you guys! :)

Jasie said...

that's awesome! and happy anniversary!

Julia and Gracie said...

We ALWAYS had your best interests in mind when we talked about fixing you up!!!

Christin said...

I remember that ski trip and almost skiing into you on the mountain..i had no idea that you were waiting for Carl all those years you were busy with us..thank you for serving us at Englewood..God used you more than you'll ever know :) by the way, i married a weird..i mean smart engineer too :)