Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beauty & the Beast: THE FINAL CHAPTER

ANDREW & CONNOR UPDATE: Please continue to lift up our friends Andrew & Connor in prayer. Andrew is still in critical care (see HERE) and Connor's bone marrow transplant still appears to have failed (see HERE). We are praying for a miracle. Please consider serving them by registering to be a bone marrow donor HERE or see the Bone Marrow tab above. If your read Steph's blog (Connor's mom) linked above I think you will be very moved to join the registry - it's a must-read. What a gift it would be to be one of the few who can give someone the gift of life!
Well, here it is. The FINAL chapter of this series (Start HERE if you're new to this). If you think reading each chapter from week to week was difficult imagine living it out from year to year. No writer, no matter how gifted, could convey the ashes that I have tasted and the beauty that has since risen. Only my fellow geeks who have married cancer-beating models know what I'm talking about - and we are an elite group.  I found it ironic and yet fitting that the week I'm writing the last chapter of this series I just happened to be at Disney World. After watching Beauty & the Beast live on stage at Hollywood Studios I just couldn't resist getting this souvenir (pictured on right) for our home. It now sits on our fireplace mantle commemorating what has symbolized for me both the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."  I hope you've enjoyed the series as much as I've enjoyed....well, i just hope you enjoyed the series.
I thought I was about to blow everything when after 5-10 minutes I was unable to pick Kim out from the mass of moving commuters  – my proposal was about to go down the disposal and then just as I began to lose hope...I spotted her! She didn’t see me, nor was she expecting to and so she was a bit startled when I grabbed her arm and told her we were going out for dinner. We grabbed a cab to “the Hancock “- the second tallest building of Chicago’s beautiful skyline where I had booked reservations at The Signature Room – the restaurant on the 95th floor.

Now going into the night I only had two goals in mind. The first was the obvious one – GET HER TO SAY “YES”. The second was a bit more ambitious – GET HER TO CRY. I’m not talking about a lone tear drop a la Denzel in "Glory" or even a few token sniffles – I wanted to see a veritable waterfall. I mean she put me through three years of torture – I felt I was entitled to see some tears of happiness from this woman. Therefore, I named my mission....“OPERATION: Niagara”.

But in order to keep things a surprise I didn’t want Kim to suspect that this was THE night and so I reiterated to her that this dinner was just an early Christmas present. I had to be very clear with this disclaimer because up to that point fine dining for us meant "Old Country Buffet" or on the most special of evenings the unparalleled....Olive Garden”.

So we got our menus, Kim balked at the prices and I balked at what I was about to do. Nervous doesn't even begin to describe it. The ring was in my pocket but it wasn’t in a box. It was on a string. My fool-proof plan was to put the ring in her glass while we prayed for our meal and surprise her when she reached for a drink. But while we prayed, I suddenly had this horrific thought.
“What if she swallows the ring? Would the string be strong enough to survive the tension of being pulled through her esophagus?  Because if I had to get up and apply the Heimlich maneuver that would definitely kill the ambiance of this fine dining establishment”.

Yes, these are the kinds of things I think about when I pray.

And so I quickly switched to another plan – I was just going to set the ring in front of her plate. I don’t know what I said while I prayed. I’m sure it sounded ridiculous because I was praying, pontificating and also pulling out the ring and positioning it right in front of her and we all know how great men are at multi-tasking. That said, Kim never opened her eyes while I prayed – no matter how goofy it sounded. What a good Christian girl she is.

After I closed the prayer and we said, “Amen” she looked up but didn’t notice the ring in front of her. No big deal. I was still holding the string on the other end and so I gave it a slight tug. The ring moved and caught her eye and she looked down and gasped. The moment I had agonized half a decade for had finally arrived. I grabbed the ring, got up from the table and kneeled next to her. Honestly, I don’t remember a single word I said when I proposed. Kim doesn’t either. All I know is that she said, “Yes.” and that was all that mattered.


The first mission was complete! But as happy as she looked she did not cry. Maybe she was weeping tears of joy on the inside. Maybe the restaurant was too "public" for her and she was self-conscious. Maybe she was dehydrated. Yeah, she was probably really dehydrated. It's difficult to cry when you're low on fluids.


Before I could even ask the waiter for more water he is bringing over a nice bottle of champagne and pointing to an older couple sitting near us. Apparently, they had witnessed the entire incident and wanted to help us celebrate by treating us to a bottle of bubbly. We waved and smiled at them and they waved back. We will never forget that kind gesture. 

After we finished eating Kim thought we were heading back home but I had another surprise for her. I had suspected that a nice dinner and a ring just may not be enough to evoke tears and so it was time to move to Operation: Niagara PHASE II.

I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. There was one slight hitch. This just happened to be one of the coldest December days in the history of Chicago. I kid you not. I looked it up on the weather almanac – it was Dec 13th and that night it hit 5 degrees and the wind chill was around -40. So you can imagine the look I got when I asked her if she wanted to join me for a walk. (It was very reminiscent of the look I got a few years earlier when I first asked her to pray for me.)

However, I wasn’t really asking her for a walk – I was setting her up for my second surprise. A horse-carriage ride around the city. After walking a block or two I finally spotted the carriage I had arranged and we got in. I had envisioned a romantic jaunt surveying the historic beauty of Chicago's iconic architecture instead all I got was the both of us shivering under flannel blankets, the windows glazed over with a thin sheet of ice, and Kim repeating, “That poor driver. That poor driver.” Wow. Phase 2 was turning into an EPIC FAIL. After about 30 minutes of “That poor driver!” we finally got out of the carriage. If Kim shed any tears they would have frozen on her face and I would have been forced to chip it off so I guess I was glad Operation: Niagara was still bombing.

But the evening was not over yet. Hope was not lost. It was time to move to Phase III. We got out of the carriage. I gestured for a cab but then a stretch limousine pulled up. After Kim got over the shock that the car was for her, we scurried in like a pair of frightened chipmunks and promptly began to thaw. I had arranged for the limousine to drive us back to her parents house and we were going to do the 40 minute drive together and the night with a bang. Kim was duly impressed -- an amazing dinner, followed by a very amazing carriage ride (for all the wrong reasons), capped with an amazing ride home, but still….no tears. What the??? Operation Niagara was starting to look like Operation Sahara. Not a drop of water in sight!

We sat together in the limo, leaned back and I still managed to smile thinking about what was already shaping up to be a memorable night. I was down but I was not out. I had one last Ace up my sleeve and I was about to throw it down, take my chips and go home. I had been carrying my work bag with me the whole night and I had one more gift to give her. My piece de resistance. My magnum opus. The ultimate tear-jerker.

WARNING: Men with weak stomachs should stop reading here.
It was a scrap book, but it wasn’t just any scrap book. It was a scrap book that took four long years to make – full of personal journal entries, verses of hope, a myriad of mementos, photos, cards and rejection letters. Everything and anything that had to do with Kim, I had saved along the way and put in that scrapbook including the instructions to that amaryllis. I even saved the straw from the first milkshake we shared at Oberweis right after I had graduated from college four years earlier and about one week before she sent her first rejection letter to me. That milky residue was getting quite foul - but I didn't care. That straw was special (see below - next to "rejection letter #1").

I held on to all these things because I held on to hope. A hope that despite all the hardships, despite all the ups and downs, despite even the repeated rejections a faithful God was going to make good on a promise He had given me five years earlier….and that He did. Boy, did he ever. Maybe not on my particular terms, but in His perfect time. And so if you’re wondering how I have such a vivid memory of things that happened almost 20 years ago – now you know. This whole story has largely already been written and all the glorious and gory details are in that little scrapbook.

On that limo ride home as we perused through each page and read through each journal entry and each verse together - it finally happened. She began to cry. What the ring could not do – the scrapbook had done. When I watched Beauty & the Beast at Disney World with Kim last week and snapped the picture below I later realized it was the exact replica of that perfect night capturing that perfect moment...except I was a bit thinner, slightly less hairy and wore a red cape (not purple).

I could now breathe. Operation: Niagara was finally complete. It was time to call off the Blackhawk helicopter hovering above our limo equipped with tear gas. Not today boys. Not today. God is good.

But seriously - this was how it all began. An enduring FAITH had been rewarded. A deferred HOPE had been realized. A persistent LOVE had been returned. (1 Cor 13:13)  My prayers had finally been answered and we got married in April of 2001. It’s hard to believe that this was over 11 years ago.
It was a memorable five years pursuing and courting my wife. It had it's ups and downs but looking back I wouldn't trade it for the world. That said, I'm speaking truth when I tell you that the last eleven years have been better than the first five. But that’s a different story, for a different time, and God is still writing it….and it…is…EPIC.

In His Grace,

Peter & Kim


  1. Awesome story of God's faithfulness. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, what a great story! It is God story! Life you have done together, having all anchored in God's Love.

  3. Oh i LOVE it !!!! So happy for you both :)

  4. There is now closure in my heart.
    I will sleep well tonight.

  5. oh my goodness..is that a creative memories album? it looks like it or one like it! what a man you are! i love it! i was thinking you needed to make this in to a book...but you already have!!!!! love to you both.

  6. Ok, I was totally wondering how you remembered all these details after all these years...this chapter shed some light on that. And here I was starting to think you were just REEEAAAALLLLY smart w/ a REEEAAAALLLLY great memory! :P PTL for hope, faith, and persistence! You must be one of the guys Miss Kim (jipsahnim) would refer to when she told us that any woman would say "yes" if the man was persistent enough, LOL! God is so good! Blessings and continued prayers to you both!

  7. God is GOOD! Love you both.

  8. Will we be seeing this on the big screen, Revenge of the Nerds V??

  9. Good stuff, Pete! God is good! =) May the evidence of enduring FAITH, deferred HOPE, and persistent LOVE continue to be exhibited in your marriage to one another for many more years to come! Love you both!

  10. I have loved your reading your story and what a beautiful ending. I can only hope and pray a man will love me so much to wait and be persistent in pursuing me....waiting for that day! Your story gives me hope and I don't know you both personally, but I have been following your blog and praying for all of you. Praise God that Kim is in remission, He is SO good and faithful!