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Katie and Kody - The perfect plan and the perfect storm
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Katie and Kody - The perfect plan and the perfect storm

You cannot vote for this story anymore, as this story participated in constest that ended on June 30, 2017

The Engagement Story (from the perspective of the groom)

This is a story that will be told and retold for the remainder of time. It is a story of love, adventure, tears, romance, danger, and ultimately a happy ever after. You see, it was not a proposal that would take place in simply one day. No, no, no, that would be far too little for this special bride. This was a proposal that would pull together all the moments that inspired their love into one. Or at least that was the plan. But, as Kody would learn on this fateful adventure, plans are good. They provide comfort, stability, expectation, and hope. But, sometimes plans are simply that. And when you live in a world with God whose plans provide much greater hope yet at times leave us feeling much less comfortable and stable, things may not always go as we would hope.

Katie and Kody shared many significant moments in their first year of dating. With each of these memories they shared, their love for one another grew. It didn't take long before Kody knew this girl was special in a way he had never experienced before. Not only that, but he knew that if he did not spend the rest of his life with her, it would be the saddest thing he would ever experience. And while Kody knew this was true, he was well aware that for such a special girl, a simple proposal just would not suffice. So, months before the intended date and time, the planning began.

To pull off such a feat, one cannot only rely on his own abilities. It takes man power to make dreams come true and for a dream this big there was simply not enough time for Kody to do it on his own. So, the first stage of the plan was to assemble the ultimate team. First, Kody called on Steven. Steven was located with Kody in Florida and was knowledgeable of the surrounding areas which Kody had just recently moved to. He was also adept in incognito photography which could be of use. Next, Kody recruited Bridget, one of Katie's many sisters. Bridget would be acting as Kody's inside-girl. Her job was to gather intel, create decoys when necessary, and covertly move family personnel into appropriate position without their knowing. This would not be an easy job, but Bridget was up for the task. Lastly was Angela, another Lademan sister. Angela was adept in photography and had access to many of Katie and Kody's key memory locations. Angela's job would be one of the most important of all.

The second step to this master plan was one that all men must accomplish, especially men who desire to marry Kody's future daughters, and that task is, Asking the Father's Permission (Dah Dah DAAAH). While Kody knew the Lademan family liked him, and felt very welcomed and loved by Katie's parents, he knew this wasn't going to be easy. You see, Mr. Lademan has a policy for his daughters. It's called the three C's. These are three expectations they must consider when choosing a future spouse. That's Catholic, Conservative, and Cash. You see, Kody is an ordained Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Pastor, in other words, not Catholic. As for cash, all Kody had just went into buying a particular piece of Jewelry for Katie, one that wouldn't be needed if this meeting with her father didn't go well. So, Bridget was able to secure a secret breakfast with Mr. Lademan and Kody, unbeknownst to Katie. Mr. Lademan, however out-witted them both and knew what was going down. At breakfast, Kody rambled for what seemed to him to be three hours (likely about 30 minutes) when Mr. Lademan promptly took over the conversation. He shared with Kody his understanding of Kody's intent for this meeting, and just as promptly gave him permission to marry his daughter. It was at that time, Kody took his first exhale of the breakfast.

Phase I was complete, now on to Phase II, preparations for the big day. Kody had derived a masterplan for the big day, but preparations had to be made. For this Angela and Steven were called upon. Angela was first. She took pictures of key locations signifying important memories that Katie and Kody had created in the midst of their relationship, i.e., the first kiss location, first I love you, first date. Once these pictures were taken, Kody had them transferred to 18x24 canvas prints. Now that the memories were created, Kody needed the right spot for the big question. Steven and Kody scoured the Jacksonville area before decided that it just wouldn't do. They continued up the cost before deciding Savannah's Wormsloe Park had everything they needed.

About a month before the big day, Steven and Kody tell Katie that they are going on a camping trip. Really they were going to Savannah to prepare. They planned the whole day of visiting art museums, walking through gardens, and ending the day at Wormsloe Park. There, Steven and Kody took a final picture for the collection. They hung the canvas prints provided by Angela where they would be hung on the big day and took a picture of the entire area. This picture was to be the final piece of the masterplan. All the other canvases were of memories along the way, memories that created the foundation that inspired Kody's hopes to marry Katie. It was at this spot, Wormsloe Park, surrounded by their memories, where their biggest memory of all would be created. Steven and Kody left satisfied knowing the plan was in place. It was going to be awesome. It was perfect. Upon returning home, they realized they hadn't spent the night anywhere thus their camping excuse would fall flat. Katie was at Kody's house decorating as a surprise when they walked in. Katie immediately questioned their early arrival. Kody quickly made up an excuse Katie would be sure to understand. He said, it was cold out there so we came home. She bought it, and the day was saved.

Now that the plan had come together, it was time for the final phase, executing the plan. The date was October 6th and tomorrow was set to be the big day. The two would drive north to Savannah that night, stay at the Holiday Inn, and then Saturday morning the plan would commence. However, someone much bigger than Kody had different plans for this storybook tale. The headline in the news that day was Hurricane Matthew, a large hurricane that had just decimated the Caribbean islands, was headed for Florida, and eventually to, yes you guessed it, Savannah GA. All the plans that Kody had worked so hard to make over the past several months began to unravel in just a brief moment. He received a call from the hotel and was informed that their rooms had been canceled because everywhere East of I-95 had been evacuated. However, Kody, either stubborn or strong willed, would not allow his plans to be undone so easily. He quickly looked up the closest hotel to the western bank of I-95 near Savannah, GA and made new reservations. As Hurricane Matthew approached Jacksonville, Katie and Kody headed north.

When they arrived at the hotel, Kody and Katie were very excited. They had evacuated Jacksonville with thousands of others and were now within distance of Savannah. Katie believed they had left for a weekend all about recovering from a difficult work week; Kody knew it was much more than that. At check in, Kody checked with the hotel manager to ensure they would be staying through the storm. Kody and Steven made some minor changes to the plan for the next day in hopes of out-maneuvering the storm, and everything was back on track.

With the storm still 5 or more hours away, Katie and Kody decided to go into Savannah in the midst of the evacuation. For the first time, they saw Savannah with almost no cars, no pedestrians, and not a lot of anything else going on. They found a brave dueling piano bar on the river where they shared a few drinks and enjoyed the excitement of what was to come. They took a walk around the city, had a late night breakfast at the only restaurant open, Waffle House, and turned in for the night.

October 7th, 2016. Kody wakes up hearing a knock at the door. He opens the door to see a maid who is prepared to turn down the room. Kody informs her that he will be staying there for one more day and doesn't need any service at the time and thanks her for stopping by. She leaves, he lays back in bed, and as soon as he begins to drift off he hears another knock. He opens the door and much to his bewilderment there stands the very same maid. She says "Sir, I'm sorry, but you must not have heard, we are evacuating because the hurricane is coming right for us. You're not allowed to stay another night." Kody loses it. He has been beaten, Hurricane Matthew has won ...

After consoling Kody for what Katie is currently seeing as an overreaction, because she still believes this was just a weekend get away from the stresses of work and Jacksonville, Katie convinces Kody that they should head north and they set their sights on Augusta, GA. Katie's excitement for the adventure of escaping the wrath of hurricane Matthew gave Kody's hope new life. He altered his plans to go and enjoy the weekend in Augusta, while planning to stop back in Savannah, post-hurricane, on the way home, for the proposal.

When they arrived in Augusta all the hotels had been booked. In the midst of the storm there was no room at the inn for these two. They decided they would camp it out in the rain. They had their hammocks and just needed a rain fly for them. They visited several sporting goods stores before realizing that they were too hungry to make such decisions. While Katie was depositing some checks at the bank, Kody quickly googled some local hot spots. Google did not disappoint. They ended up downtown by the river walk and planned for lunch at the Cotton Patch, and then coffee and dessert at the Boll Weevil Café. When they arrived at the Cotton Patch they realized it didn't open for a few hours, but there was a blues band that evening. This was an easy decision, coffee and desserts first, dinner later. The two enjoyed delicious desserts, chocolate cake with a cheesecake filling, and a delicious tiramisu.

This whole time, while Kody had moments of panic and despair, Katie was thrilled. We were refugees on an adventure falling into fun and exciting new situations. She continued to love the different places they wound up, and Kody, because he's so smooth, assured her each time that it was all part of the plan. And, following the delicious desserts, the two took a stroll down the river walk. In the midst of Katie raving about their trip to this point, Kody looked at the beautiful river walk with the street lamps, porch swings, and the relatively small amount of people there. And for the first time, he thought of abandoning his months of planning. This was a big decision for him though and he faked the need to use the bathroom. While in the outhouse, Kody called his mom and a few friends explaining the whole situation and asking for advice. Their advice was all the same. Be prepared, and if the moment presents itself and it feels right, go for it.

Time had gotten away from Kody and when he came out of the bathroom, Katie's concern was apparent. Kody, again so smooth, grabs his stomach and said, "Man that was a lot of cheesecake, I'll be ok though." Again, she bought it! He then persuades her that it was getting too cold for sandals and she should change into some boots. She obliged and they went back to the car where, while Katie changed, Kody grabbed the ring and put it in his front coat pocket. Once the ring was retrieved they set out to explore downtown Augusta.

While walking, Kody spotted a couple swing dancing in a bar. When the spotted him they ran outside and invited them in for free swing dance lessons. Kody was blown away by this as swing dancing was one of their favorite activities. During their lindy hop lessons, Kody assures Katie, "I planned this all." Following dance lessons, the two head to the Cotton Patch to hear the band. Kody's mind was made up, tonight is still the night. They enjoy a few drinks and enjoy the incredible band that was playing that night, and Kody asks Katie for another walk by the river.

The rain had picked up as the edge of Hurricane Matthew had finally reached Augusta. By this time, the two of them had become accustomed to being a little wet in their rain gear. The sky was bright red from the incoming storm, the river walk street lamps were lit, and there was no one else to be found. As they walked underneath a street light next to a swing by the river Kody stops and turns Katie toward him and says:

"I have a confession to make. I haven't actually planned those whole thing." To which Katie replies with sarcasm, "Oh, really?" Kody smiles at her clear lack of awareness of what is happening and continues, "Yes really, the hurricane, wasn't me. Augusta, never been here before, and had no plans to come here, let alone find all these awesome restaurants. And dance lessons, I actually hadn't planned those either. But, when I met you, some girl from online, I hadn't planned on falling so incredibly in love with you either. Like today, that has worked out greater than I could have ever imagined. But I would like to plan one thing today. Something that will definitely work out." Katie, looking confused, "What's that?" Kody unzips his coat pocket and reaches his hand in while saying "I want to plan to spend the rest of my life with you." He gets down on one knee, shows her the ring, and asks, "Kathleen Lademan, will you marry me?" Kathleen, shocked says, ARE YOU SERIOUS KODY?!?! IS THIS FOR REAL?!?! Laughing he says, yes, this is absolutely for real. Then, like it finally all just hit her at once, she answers "yes, yes, yes, oh my goodness, yes." They embrace each other and share their first dance as fiancés on the Riverwalk in Augusta, GA in the midst of Hurricane Matthew.

On September 30th, 2017 this story will come to an end but a new story will begin. Who knows what God has in store for these two, but one thing is certain, it's going to be an amazing adventure.
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