Girls’ Night Out Story #24: Ruth Stith


I love preludes. Chopin and Rachmaninoff each wrote a whole set of them for piano, and they are truly beautiful pieces. More than that, I love the idea of a prelude. It’s an action or event that serves as an introduction to something more important. It’s just the beginning of something wonderful. The possibilities of what is to come are endless! This is the story of the prelude of my marriage.

My husband and I met in college. He was a freshman when I was a senior, and I viewed him as a little brother (he considered me to be a theologian and spiritual adviser – he was so mistaken!). Over the next few years, we became good friends and eventually started spending most of our free time together during his senior year. After graduation, he was planning to go to seminary, and I had accepted a job in South Korea. But as Proverbs states so wisely, “in his heart, a man plans his course, but God determines his steps.”

How God changed our attitudes towards each other from friendship to more than friends is another story, but we eventually found ourselves dating just a few weeks before graduation (to our shock). Seminary and Korea were put on hold while we figured out what we were supposed to do. Six months after that, Al planned a very elaborate proposal.

He first asked my good friend, Rachael, to schedule a Christmas shopping outing to make sure I was free for the day. I had to teach a few piano lessons on this particular Saturday morning, so when there was a knock on my studio door, I assumed it was Rachael, ready to shop. It turned out to be BJ, Al’s roommate. He had a lunch from one of my favorite lunch spots for the two of us, which we ate on the floor of my studio. All he would say was that Al had an early Christmas present for me.

After we ate, BJ took me to the spa at Loew’s (ritzy hotel in Nashville), where I was treated to my first ever massage and pedicure. When it was over, another friend, Becky, showed up with a box of Godiva chocolates and a beautiful floor-length red satin dress, complete with a black velvet cape. She fed me the same story about an early Christmas present from Al, and took me back to my house and curled my hair and got me all fixed up. Becky said Al wanted me to be totally pampered that day.

Then she drove me to Vanderbilt, and we walked to a building called Calhoun. There isn’t anything special about Calhoun, other than the breezeway that has an interesting mural and it is an ideal location acoustically. As we approached, I saw more than 20 guys standing in a choir-like formation, each holding a long-stemmed red rose. I recognized them as members of Al’s music fraternity. When I walked up, they started singing (in harmony) “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. As they finished, they walked up one by one, and each handed me their rose.

engagement (2)

Behind them all was Al. He walked up with a big grin on his face, and said, “So what do you say… Will you marry me?

I said yes, and there was much celebrating with toasts and sparkling apple cider (not everyone there was 21 yet, and Al still had strong Baptist roots at that time). After a while, we slipped away and he took me out to eat at Ruth’s Chris, but I think I was too excited and happy to eat much.

We then went to walk around the beautiful Opryland Hotel (it is absolutely gorgeous inside with many gardens, and it is absolutely stunning at Christmastime). He amended his earlier proposal and properly got down on one knee, to complete the fairy tale. We dreamed of the future. Six months later, we were married. After almost four years of friendship, we were married just about a year after we started dating.


A prelude an action or event that serves as an introduction to something more important.

As wonderful and romantic as this was, it was just the prelude. Thirteen years later, we’ve experienced a few of the ups and downs promised to us in our wedding vows. Al comforted me when we went through an ectopic pregnancy, and he was the antithesis of my pain and panic as we waited for hours in the ER, waiting to find out if my tubes had ruptured. But then we celebrated together as we discovered we were pregnant again. He rubbed my back while I threw up daily for two months with morning sickness. He supported me through three births (two of them just eight minutes apart!), and we have shared in the joys of raising our children together. He has handled my demons of anxiety with patience, humor, and reassurance. We have enjoyed many meaningful performances together on trumpet and piano. We have lived our vows to the best of our ability, and I feel like I have a small taste of how Christ loves the church through my husband’s love.

In a somewhat similar way, life is a prelude. When we are finally united with Christ, all of the joys and sorrows of this life will finally make sense to us. We’ll finally have understanding, and we’ll finally have the completeness and joy that we spend our lives looking and waiting for.

It’s easy to get lost in the prelude and think that once it finishes, it’s all over. But it’s just beginning, and the best is yet to come.

Loving my prelude,

engagement4 (2)I’ve been married to my best friend for 13 years, and we feel so fortunate to have a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old twin boys. I love to make music and teach and exercise, avoid cooking at all costs, and dream about having the time to read. I strive to fully believe the words of Paul: “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

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