Austin Stone is where we finally reconnected with God in a huge way. That first evening we stumbled into Austin High School for their 7 pm service and were immediately blown away by the presence of God in the building. Their worship music was amazing, and like nothing we had ever heard in person. With me growing up Baptist, and Liz a Catholic, we were used to the more traditional style of music in church. This was like a rock concert, but with so much passion behind it. We recognized many of the songs from Christian radio, but there were a few that were all their own. After the music the pastor stepped up on stage. Even this was completely different. I don’t remember the message that was delivered, but God spoke to us through his words. We knew from that very first visit that this was where we belonged, and that God led us to this church.
Week after week we attended service, but like any church with many members and different campuses, it was very hard for us to meet people. We weren’t very involved in that first year or so of our attendance there. But each week there were different announcements made before and after service, and one week we heard about a partnership class. This was our first experience in the different classes that were offered at the church. It was the next week, and 6 hours long. We were very intimidated by the length of it, but we didn’t chicken out.
The next week after the morning service, we headed to the library at the school. It was there that we met with the other attendees of the class, and also one of the pastors that would be leading it. He laid out everything that the church believed in, all of it’s foundations and principles. All of it was backed by scripture. At the end of the class we signed on as formal members of the church, or partners as they call them.
While we continued going to service at Austin Stone, we also continued meeting with our small group for Bible study. One night at the men’s meeting we got on the subject of me and Liz. They asked how we were doing, and if I knew how I would propose (they knew that I already had the ring). I told them I didn’t have a clue, but a few of the guys there said they would love to help. A few more weeks went by and the idea hit me like a lightning bolt.
One evening Liz and I were driving home from somewhere and we passed one of those traveling carnivals that take over Wal-Mart parking lots for a few weeks out of the year. As we drove past it, Liz said “Do you remember when we rode on the Ferris Wheel? It was so romantic.” A few days later the plan was in place. One of the girls in the groups birthday was coming up, so I had her invite Liz to the carnival under the pretext of getting everyone together for her birthday. So there were 6 of us there, 3 couples, and Liz was the only one that didn’t have a clue. (Liz says, “I was walking around like a maniac,”look at this! let’s ride this!” Oh, I love fairs!””.) It didn’t feel real at first, walking around the carnival, knowing what was to come in a short while. Anytime I caught the eye of one of our friends a smile would spread over each of our faces. So finally it was go time. We all decided to ride the Ferris Wheel, and at the top, I popped the question. All the words I had planned in my mind were gone at that exact moment, but it’s probably all for the best. In those situations it’s better to speak from your heart than from some memorized set of lines like an actor. Well, she said yes! We celebrated over a few glasses of wine with the whole group later that night, and we were glowing that night, Liz especially.
Well, after getting engaged God still wasn’t through with us. He wanted to make sure that we were really prepared for our upcoming marriage, and that we understood all of what w were getting in to. Austin Stone just so happened to have a class called “Nearly/Newly Married,” and we immediately signed up. We had so much to learn, and it was through this class that we realized just how far we had to go.