1996.12.01 At Natural Bridge
Two weeks before I proposed to Kim, we spent a day together at Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, Kentucky.

It was 22 years ago today that I proposed to Kim.

Here’s how I remember it playing out:

She arrived in Memphis with her singles group from Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. They had come to see Bellevue Baptist Church’s Singing Christmas Tree Christmas performance.

I called her and we made plans for me to pick her up at the hotel and go out to eat. We went to Olive Garden and enjoyed a meal. But, my mind was racing. I initially thought that I could propose to her in the restaurant … but then I had second thoughts. I didn’t want to make a scene and put Kim on the spot. I also thought that a restaurant wasn’t the ideal place to propose.

After we finished eating, we headed to Bellevue Baptist Church to watch the Singing Christmas Tree. I was on staff there at that time (Assistant to the Military Minister). As was expected, the program was spectacular! But, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Kim did. As I toyed with the ring in my pocket, I was preoccupied with how I could make my proposal special for Kim.

The program ended and we left Bellevue together. I had wanted the evening to be romantic so I had previously planned to take Kim to a park that had a ton of Christmas lights. It was a popular sight with hundreds of cars slowly making their way through the park at a time. The park was beautiful and Kim enjoyed it.

I had thought that I could propose in the park but there was no place to pull over. If I stopped my car, my proposal to Kim would take place while many horns were blaring as drivers wondered why I was blocking traffic. So, we exited the park as I tried to think of where I could propose that would make it a memorable occasion.

As we left the park, Kim asked, “Where are we going?” It was at that moment that the idea came to me. I was going to take her back to Bellevue and propose on the front lawn.

When we got back to Bellevue, the parking lot was empty but the lights on the front lawn were illuminated. It seemed reasonably romantic (even though it was freezing!). I parked the car and invited Kim to walk with me. She was full of questions but went along with it.

As we neared the pond, with the stars and the Christmas lights illuminating the darkness, I knelt down and asked her to marry me as I held out the ring. She started to cry. She hadn’t said “yes” yet so I asked again. She nodded her head and mouthed, “yes,” as she pulled me up and we hugged.

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Standing at the site I proposed to Kim … 21 years later (June 2017).

She told me the next morning that she didn’t sleep a wink that night.

1996.12.15 Kim and engagement ring
Kim’s roommate took this picture of Kim the morning after I proposed to her.

On the way back to Lexington, Kim’s singles group did something silly. They saw an abandoned couch on the side of the road so they decided to have a picture taken. Here are the two that I kept.

1996.12.15a with group

1996.12.15b with group

I think it was a month or two later that Kim set up a photo shoot so that we could get some engagement pictures made. I thought the idea was a little silly … but, now I’m so glad that she had that idea.

You can see from this final picture who got the better end of the deal! Kim was and continues to be as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

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