I made plans to travel to Oriental, North Carolina for the weekend with my best friend Noelle's family. They go every Memorial and Labor Day weekend, and I've tagged along several times over the years. Oriental is a charming, tiny town near New Bern, NC, and Noelle's grandparents have a house right on the Neuse River. There's always been a special place in my heart reserved for MDW, simply because the summer is my favorite season, and this weekend is the perfect way to kick it off. It makes it even better when I am able to spend that time with people who are near and dear to my heart, in a place that allows a girl to relax and enjoy being on the water. Here's a recap from our weekend in Oriental two years ago.
Well, imagine my surprise when Noelle's mom, Carol, called me two nights before we were supposed to leave to tell me that Noelle would most likely get engaged that weekend! Her boyfriend, Bynum, had a ring and asked Noelle's parents for their blessing (which he whole-heartedly received). Bynum had the idea to take her to the beach the weekend after Memorial Day to propose - but Carol suggested that he think about proposing in Oriental on their pier, since that is a place that Noelle has loved since she was a little girl.
Bynum roped me into the planning part of the proposal since everything had to be in place FAST. It was my job to somehow finagle Noelle into coming with me to get a manicure that Friday, and fortunately, it worked out perfectly. While getting Mexican food together that night, we chatted for a long time about relationships. At one point, I even asked Noelle, "If Bynum were to ask you to marry him tomorrow, what would you say?" (sneaky sneaky…I knew she'd never guess in a million years), and she replied with a confident, "Yes."
On Saturday evening once Noelle got off work, the three of us left Raleigh, with two of us in the car acting stranger than usual. I could not believe that my best friend of twenty years was about to get engaged - that night! - and I kept thinking back on this last year and how much has changed.
The last time we were in Oriental was last September for Labor Day. Noelle was living in Greenville, South Carolina, and I was in Raleigh working as a nanny. Noelle and I both knew that Greenville wasn't where she was supposed to be, nor was the guy that she was dating at the time the right one for her. While swatting at mosquitoes in the moonlight one night, we talked for hours about where we wanted to go in life and what sorts of decisions we had to make. It was on that pier that she decided she needed to make a change and move back to Raleigh - and it was on that very same pier less than a year later that she would become engaged.
Bynum, Noelle, and I arrived at the house around 8:00pm, and it was seriously beautiful. The sun was setting in pinks and purples, and the water was like glass. I went in the house to catch up with her family, and Noelle took Bynum out to see the pier. Little did she know that her brother-in-law and mom had strung up twinkle lights to make the night even more magical!
While they walked out on the pier, Bynum's mother and sister came out of their hiding spots (Noelle obviously had no clue they were there), and I assumed my position on the porch, praying that Noelle wouldn't turn around to look at the house and see me with my camera taking pictures of them.
That would be awkward…ha!
Before we knew it, Bynum was on one knee asking Noelle to be his wife. I think it was right after he got up that we were ALL on the porch yelling and screaming :) And of course, hundreds of pictures ensued!
I couldn't have been happier for her. It was that deep, rooted kind of happiness that just settles down into your heart. The kind of happiness that only happens when you know something is meant to be.
Noelle and I have been best friends since kindergarten, which means we're going on twenty years of friendship. I wouldn't be the same without her! I never felt like I was missing out on not having a sister, because I couldn't imagine a better sister than Noelle.
I am so thankful that the Lord brought Noelle someone who loves her for exactly who she is, and who treats her with kindness, friendship, and respect. Bynum and Noelle care for each other in a way that is genuine, silly, honest, and FUN. I love that about them!
As for the rest of the weekend?
It was spent admiring a certain diamond ring...
…exploring downtown Beaufort, NC...
(I don't know these people)
…and reflecting on God's promises.
God is faithful. He always will be. Even when faced with tough decisions, the Lord has a plan and a purpose for the good of those who love Him. If that wasn't made any clearer by the events of this weekend, I'm not sure what could!
"For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies."